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Satellite Cinemas                                                                by Fred Page

             In  1992-93 considerable publicity was given to a company called Satellite Cinemas which  hoped to set up
             video theatres in population centres of 15,000 or more where there was not an existing conventional cinema.
             Several were erected in country N.S.W. and there was a strong likelihood that Bacchus Marsh would be the
             first in  Victoria.

             The company  designed self-contained cinemas that could  seat 24, 44, or 56 people.  The cinema would be
             delivered  to  the  towns  in  pre-fabricated form,  complete with  curtains, carpets, seats, lights and  reception/
             display hardware.

             After construction by a builder- "or do it yourself' - and installation of the satellite dish and video hardware, the
             cinema was to be operable within three to four days. (The company had a 24-seat version for demonstration
             purposes.) Day-to-day operation was said to be no more complicated than a domestic television set.

             Distributors are said to have welcomed the proposal.  "It's a completely new market for them ... and they won't
             have 200 extra prints running around the country. Distributors will be paid on a percentage of the takings, which
             reduces the financial burden  on  most licensees.  In tourist resorts, such  as Hamilton Island, the licensee will
             most likely pay a set fee. We are only licensing towns or suburbs that are miles from existing cinemas, so there
             is no conflict. There is no intention to compete with film projection cinemas, due to their larger size and superior
             pictures. However, the latest video projectors from Sony are said to be close to film quality.  The company has
             used  line-doubling technology to increase the  resolution:  in  theory, it doubles the  vertical  resolution  of the
             three-metre wide screen. Each site will use an S-VHS recording system."

                            Diagram of a self-contained theatrette proposed by Satellite Cinemas

             It now appears that none were built in Victoria and only a few in N.S.W. which have since been converted to
             35mm  film.

             Satellite transmission  during  transponder down  time was  used  to  get the  film  to the  cinema  where  it was
             recorded for later screening. To  avoid "hackers"  receiving  a watchable  picture the  image was compressed
             "cinemascope" style in a 4:3 aspect ration and projected through an anamorphic lens to screen at a 16:9 aspect
             ration.  Screen width was three metres.

             If any reader can supply photographs or personal opinions of satellite cinema experience they are invited to
             submit them for future publication to provide for research at a later time.

             The information on which this article is based appeared in  March the 18th, 1993, issue of "Encore'' magazine.
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