The Digital Cowboy
Venice Film Festival 2006
At times, Schiffman's a project's requirements required Schiffman's an "overlap" of his expertise.
Schiffman’s efforts in Europe and elsewhere resulted in an exclusive invitation to be the preferred digital mastering and playback system for the 63rd Venice Film Festival.
Although the Cannes Film Festival is perhaps better known, the Venice Film Festival is considered a more prestigious among filmmakers. Included in the Festival was a one 3D symposium for the Italy chapter of SMPTE. This "sideshow" required Schiffman & Drake to deliver the Symposium media while maintaining the daily mastering & screening schedule.
The project was daunting. For the first time at any International Film Festival, on-site DCinema Mastering would be available to entrants, with multiple digital screenings scheduled in four separate Festival venues. The event required Schiffman's experience in project management, special events. and the "field trials" of a mastering workflow Schiffman created for this International "spotlight" event.
In addition, digital screening would compete equally with traditional film prints, a first for this, or any International Film Festival.
Nearly a month of intensive planning and project management preceded the event. The Venice Film Festival runs for 11 days. In early August, Schiffman departed for Venice to begin on-site setup, with support from QuVIS Engineer Curtis Drake, and QuVIS distributor Gabriel Berto, Managing Director of Impianti Televisi.
A first-ever Mastering and Network Operations Center (MNOC) was established on the top floor of the Festival administration building which also housed their largest and most prestigious cinema, Sale Grande. During the ten days prior to the Festival, the MNOC was brought on-line, Mastering begun, players deployed to the four Festival cinemas, and DCinema operators trained.
The daily presentation schedule was rarely finalized before 8 pm the prior evening, occasionally later. Each workday began with player verification and reconfirmation of the screening schedule. Screenings generally began between 7:30-8:00 am and usually ended about 11:30 pm.
The Mastering, quality checking, and digital print duplication processes occurred nonstop from before the Festival opening into the final day. Drake and Schiffman’s “on-duty” time ranged 16-20 hours daily.
35 titles were digitally mastered on-site, and more than 130 digital screenings delivered during the Festival without failure, problem, or a lost show.
Schiffman in the MNOC MNOC – Drake (right), Schiffman (left)
The New & the Old. Sale Grande Cinema projection booth.
DCinema server on top of the audio rack (left). Film projector (right)
Sale Grande is largest of the festival cinemas, seating nearly 1,000 people.
Schiffman trains server operators in the Sale Volpi cinema projection booth.
Over his shoulder on the right is a 35 mm film winder. In the rack behind him
is part of the cinema sound system. Sale Volpi seats about 60 viewers.
Opening Day Sale Grande from the back row, during setup.