HMVCurzon graphics showing in the Green Screen © Jan Vincent-Rudzki

Yesterday we looked at the opening of HMVCurzon in Wimbledon. Today we go behind the scenes and discover the technology of the new cinema.

The three screens look good, being both cosy and large enough to feel your having a ‘night’ out. They are colour coded red, blue and green and accommodate 103, 90 and 70 seats respectively

The screens themselves are 4 meters wide and 2.5 high. The projection is via the latest digital projectors with a resolution of 2048×1080. This is basically only just a little more than home High Definition but don’t be fooled for the set up is excellent and comes with a super digital sound system and comfortable seating.

HMVCurzon - Mick Stephen Chief Engineer
Mick Stephen Chief Engineer

This digital set up is the new Cinema standard world wide which is replacing the film projection methods still being used. It is interesting to note that when the digital systems where first being muted there was lots of talk of who would fund them. At the time, digital was much more expensive than standard film projection. In addition the savings where all for the movie distributor. A new print is costly but the cost of digital distribution is cheap. However time has moved on and this system was fully funded by the cinema, HMVCurzon, themselves.

HMVCurzon - Projectionists
Projectionists Phu To (from Curzon Soho) and Jordan Bedding © Jan Vincent-Rudzki

The large Odeon in London’s Leicester Square had at one time a 4k projection system (double HMVCurzon’s 2k) but, according to Phu To, Curzon Soho projectionist, because of lack of source material in 4k even the Odeon Leicester Square have 2k now. Having seen the screens here up close the systems certainly provide high quality pictures. Only IMAX cinemas will beat the technical quality.

So how does this system work? Each screen has its own 2 TB server in the server room. Hard Drives containing the film are delivered and via special security codes the films are copied over to the server. Adverts are delivered by DVD disk.

HMVCurzon - Projectionist Jordan Bedding
Projectionist Jordan Bedding by the control panel for the screens © Jan Vincent-Rudzki

The whole system can then be programmes with the screening times and appropriate adverts allocated. There is also a main server which when fully running will be able to act as a resource to each screens servers.

Satellite feed is also available for live events such as sports, theatre and opera.

The projection equipment itself is at the back of the screens in a cupboard. Vertically mounted with a mirror above. The movie will then beam above everyone’s heads to the white screen. Wider aspect ratios of some films just mean more of the screen width will be used. As it is digital projection the edge is sharper and this means that there is no need for screen masking (i.e. you won’t be seeing the screen adjust in size here).

For 3D films Assistant Managing Projectionist Jordon Bedding showed off the high tech glasses. These are the expensive ones that will work with the white screens. They easily fit over peoples standard glasses. You won’t be able to forget returning them as they are security tagged!

HMVCurzon - 3D Glass
3D Glass © Jan Vincent-Rudzki

Only a couple of problems remained in the week before opening. One was the exit light shining on the screen. This should now be fixed. The other was a little more a problem. The screens are 2.5 meter high and people sitting at the front can block some parts of the bottom the screen for those behind. Not normally a major problem but for sub-title films this could be more major. They are working on reducing the height of the projected image for those films so to completely clear peoples heads.

Overall this looks likes great cinema with high quality pictures and sound. Good comfortable seating and a nice area to meet and later discuss the film.

Tomorrow we will be putting up the full image gallery of this cinema opening.

Do let us know your thoughts if your lucky enough to visit the cinema. You can post them below.

Colin Davies

The editor of Film Review Online