The Venice Film Festival was in fine form this year, complete with government police, Hugo Chavez, no shortage of digital screenings, and weather at the beach so enticing that the Pixar execs cancelled a scheduled panel session (much to the dismay of those who were waiting in line). A great setting for the annual Italian SMPTE conference on digital cinema.
Unlike US SMPTE conferences, which tend to be broadcast centric, these events are attended by people in all walks of cinema life, from students to production to exhibition. Not having participated in one of these for some years, the most striking change was the extent to which financing became the central topic of discussion. (One could never do this in a SMPTE conference in the US.)
Italy is certainly not thought of as a pioneering country in digital cinema. Yet it encompasses all of the challenges in scaling this technology around the world. Information that is almost but not quite accurate. Ideological solutions presented for problems that are not well understood. And discussions over financing with the not so hidden hope that the government will bail them out.
It’s times like this that I wonder how we will educate the professionals around the world, and how this technology is going to spread.