Profile: Beth Bonness

Jul 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: Director of digital cinema business development for Grass Valley Group in Nevada City, Calif.
Background: Before joining Grass Valley Group, Ms. Bonness ran her own e-commerce business for three years and worked as engineering program manager at Tektronix. Grass Valley Group’s Digital Cinema Business Development Group is currently testing the digital cinema capabilities of its Profile XP Media Platform. The digital cinema compression format functionality should be available for servers later this year.
What’s new: “Jurassic Park 3” was slated to have its digital premiere last week at the Loews Theatre at Universal CityWalk in Universal City, Calif. The showing marked the first digital premiere of a movie based on MPEG-2 technology and the first time a movie has been shown on two screens using one server, Ms. Bonness said. The digital premiere served as a demonstration of the technology to test image quality. About 40 theaters worldwide have digital cinema equipment, she said.
Cost savings: “Having digital technology will eventually reduce the cost of moviemaking so you don’t have to make celluloid copies,” Ms. Bonness said.
The difference with digital: The nature of handling film dictates that it will contain some scratches, Ms. Bonness said. The general viewing audience may not be aware of all the scratches because they are used to them. However, when people see a digital alternative, they notice the difference in the crisper digital copy-“rock-solid images, no jittering and no scratches,” she said.
Future: “[The `Jurassic Park 3′ premiere] is showing the market is moving forward in that there is standards-based compression. This is the next evolutionary step in the market-to show something with standards, with 24/7 reliability, with a solid platform. During the next year, there will be more experiments with the goal of maintaining quality and ensuring interoperability, and the public will become more educated on what digital provides for them,” she said.
A new business model: The question of who’s going to pay for the digital equipment lingers. A multichannel server will cost about $100,000, and most theater chains don’t want to make the investment for fear the technology could become obsolete. Ms. Bonness emphasized that the technology is easily and inexpensively upgraded. Nonetheless, she expects a new business model will develop in which studios help with the funding, since they are the entities that will benefit the most.