Treat for moviegoers as cinemas go digital

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong moviegoers will be among the first in Southeast Asia to experience the latest in digital image technology.

UA Cinema Circuit announced that two cinemas - one each at UA Cityplaza and Telford Plaza - will go digital. Prices of tickets for digital cinemas will be the same as those for ordinary cinemas.

The digital cinema uses a high-definition projection system, displaying images in 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) resolution - the highest of its kind in the world.

UA said that the technology, including a server and encoding machine, will help combat piracy as a watermark on the images allows copyright owners to trace the source of a pirated film.

The UA chain also plans to host other events at its cinemas, such as organising live broadcasts of important sports events and concerts.

The company did not reveal the total size of its investment, but general manager Chan Chi-leung said the operating cost of a digital cinema was three times that of an ordinary cinema.

'It's still worth investing in,' said Mr Chan. 'The 35mm system had limitations. There are many shows that can't be shown. Now we can consider talk shows, concerts or sports.

'In Germany, sports games are being shown at cinemas. We have to test the market as such things have never been done here before. But we believe [digital cinema] to be the trend.'

Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers' chairman Arthur Wong Ngok-tai, who did the cinematography for Hollywood production Ultraviolet with a high-definition camera, said the images shot were a lot sharper and stronger.

He said that if digital projection became common, it would have a huge impact as filmmakers would have to switch to shooting with high-definition cameras.

UA said the chain planned to build another digital cinema in the New Territories by the end of June.