The Digital Cowboy
In 2001, The People’s Republic of China, through the China Film Group, a corporation owned by the government, launched an initiative to convert 100 cinemas to digital. During the following 2 years, Joel Schiffman made 14 trips to China to promote, demonstrate, integrate, project manage and install QuVIS DCinema servers in 10 cinemas in Beijing and Shanghai.
QuVIS’s Japanese distribution partner, DStorm, opened a subsidiary company, DStorm China to provide local presence.
The project was formally launched at the China Digital Cinema Forum in 2003.
The China Film Group Chairman opens the Summit, welcoming attendees. Jim Graham, Executive Vice President of QuVIS Sales, (Right) presents a briefing on QuVIS and
Strategy and implementation plans with translation assistance from Mr. Ghu, a DStorm China engineer. (Left)
In China as in much of Asia, important business is conducted over meals. Typically platters of local fare are place on a large revolving disk on each table. People serve themselves by gently rotating the disk until the desired dish is within reach. He then serves himself, by moving a portion to his plate. Chinese chopsticks are usually made of plastic and are longer than the wooden ones found in Japan or in American “Chinese” restaurants. The plastic makes it difficult to grip noodles and other food with slippery sauces. Schiffman’s sticks technique will never be described as “native”, but more than one person expressed surprise at his skill.
Beer and Chinese wine are almost always included, other than breakfast. Most of the local beer is very good, comparable to well-known European brews, but have a higher alcohol content.
Chinese wine is from fermented rice, but there the similarity to Japanese sake’ ends. Chinese wine is fortified by adding additional alcohol to about 30% or 60 “proof”. It’s flavor impossible to describe. “Unpleasant” is an understatement, however with each subsequent serving the taste becomes less objectionable.
To refuse partake with your hosts is insulting. Locals are often well aware how visitors will react and often “test” their guests, offering frequent toasts, which easily and quickly challenge one’s fortitude and sobriety. Schiffman managed to avoid insulting his hosts, but not without occasional difficulty.
A luncheon followed the launch Summit. Schiffman discusses project details
with staff members of China Research Institute for Film Studies Technology. (CRIFST)
The food in China is generally plentiful, regionally unique, very different from "American Chinese" Food, and can be exotic.
Schiffman quickly learned not to ask what he was being offered but to sample and usually enjoy it.
Left, a fish cooked and served whole. Right, fish-head soup.
The project was not about meetings and food. Locally, implementation began with staging and testing of the equipment. Although fully tested before shipment to China, each cinema system was rechecked as a system at the Hualong Digital Film Company.
As Project Manager, Schiffman was ultimately responsible for the success of each installation, training of the users, and support through partner DStorm China.
Above, Mr. Ghu checks out one of the servers at the Hualong Digital Film Company. The QuVIS Implementation Team at the Hualong Digital Film Company.
L – R: Mr. Ghu, Tsing Liu, Schiffman, John, Mr. Wu.
As a courtesy, English nicknames are often adopted by those working with Americans. John’s name was impossible for me to pronounce correctly. In some cases, the given name is as simple to use. (Mr. Ghu)
Mr. Wu and John wait in a lounge at the Hualong Digital Film Companywith systems staged ready for installation at the cinemas.
Although Cineplexes are not uncommon in China, most of the installations were in classic one or two screen cinemas. Here, in the China Film Group Cinema projection booth, a new Barco Digital Projector, far left, stands next to one of two single reel Chinese-made film projectors. The projectionist is allowed a small degree of comfort in the form of the barber's chair. He must remain alert at all times during a screening, ready for a film break or a reel-change between film projectors.
A closer look at the digital projector is shown here, as Mr. Hamada, John, and the CFG Chief projectionist discuss where Schiffman's server will be installed.