Cinematic Evolutions : The Future of Screenings & Productions
By Senthil Kumar
In our latest industry spotlight session, Qube Cinema co-founder Senthil Kumar joined Lohita Sujith Sr. Director, Copyright & Digital Economy, Motion Picture Association. The two focused on the significance and evolution of technology in the film industry over the years.
Senthil reminisced about the tedious and careful work of film editing in the 1970s and 1980s, wherein an editor used scissors and glue to cut physical film. He pointed out that in this manner it was highly difficult to add a frame back after editing it out, since every cut created a slight jump in the video.
At the same time, films relied on monosound. While Dolby entered the international market, India did not have access. However, Senthil’s company, Qube licensed DTS and helped spread awareness and knowledge about mixing sound. He also pointed out that because international industries do not use songs in the same manner as India does, India was the first place to mix songs in film. Qube and DTS transformed the industry.
The conversation then moved onto technology in cinema halls. According to Senthil, among independent operators, it would be possible to find early adopters who would bring certain technologies to India first, and others would follow. However, with consolidation, there are only really larger chains in the market, and they are often slower to adopt new, costly technology.
Senthil shared with us what he sees as the future of cinema: laser-based lighting which makes the picture look much better, and later down the line, LED screens rather than projection. The latter, he said, may take ten or twenty years due to cost, but it will eventually be the norm.
Senthil and Lohita then discussed two problems the cinema hall operators face, the first being the difficulty of opening a new cinema. Senthil was of the opinion that the high number of regulations that vary from state-to-state, paired with the lack of government incentives, makes it difficult to open a new cinema. This, he said, is why the country has a shockingly low screen density. The second problem Senthil outlined was ticket pricing. In smaller towns, the price is frozen, often by the government, and that price is too low which makes it difficult for cinemas to survive. On the flip side, the ticket prices in major cities have gone sky high, which discourages families from seeing multiple movies a month.
The conversation moved on to piracy. Rich in technology knowledge, Senthil explained the ways that movies can be pirated from cinema halls—and which technologies will be nearly impossible to steal from. According to him, there’s no real way to stop piracy altogether, but we must address it post-theft whenever possible.
The discussion wrapped up as Senthil explained the exciting future of film production: virtual production. In this, a filmmaker can create any screen right in a studio. This is better for the actors, who do not have to act on green screen. And it makes the sky the limit for filmmakers. Right now, there are about sixty virtual production studios in the world. Thanks to Qube, India will have its very own in Hyderabad in the early autumn of 2022.
For the full interview, please watch the video.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senthil Kumar is a co-founder of Qube Cinema, the company that is behind four significant technology revolutions in the movie industry. He has multiple granted patents in the US, Europe, China & India to his credit and has worked in the production & post-production of movies and television programs during his 35-year career. Qube cinema brought digital editing to India with Avid, digital cinema sound to India with DTS and helped transform the cinema industry worldwide with its Qube digital cinema system. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is also a Trustee of The Banyan, a non-profit that has had a significant impact on the mental health and homelessness sectors in India. Senthil is a Computer Science Engineering graduate from NIT Trichy.