The Digital Cowboy
United Kingdom Film Council
Digital Screen Network
In 2003, the British Government formed the United Kingdom Film Council to fund and create a Digital Screen Network. The purpose was to provide a method for independent film makers a technology and process to present their efforts to larger audiences. Up to this time, independents were budget constrained by the high cost of producing 35 mm prints to be screen in classic cinemas. In some cases, only one or a few distribution prints might be produced. In other situations, the cost of producing even one print copy was insurmountable to some film makers. The goal of the DCN was to reduce these expenses and deliver alternative content to locations and viewers "beyond the reach" of the traditional film distribution process.
A grant mechanism to fund digital conversion of about 250 small local cinemas was defined and dcinema companies were invited to a conference in London for a project briefing. More than 90 companies attended the first vendors conference.
From the beginning, it was evident no one company offered all the resources necessary to complete the "turn-key" project. In the subsequent months, the majority of those 90 companies were disqualified by the UKFC for one reason or another. In early 2004, the Film Council had narrowed thier list of qualified and acceptable solution providers to two organizations, Dolby Digital Cinema and Arts Alliance Media with Schiffman's company partnering to provide the dcinema servers.
The first industry effort of it's type, the DSN requirements were innovative, and unique, requiring an integrated solution not available from any single source at that time.
As the International Product Manager, Schiffman assisted AAM in developing and defining requirements needed in the cinema servers, conveying that information to his company's engineers, testing and refining the upgrades, demonstrating and training the AAM integration group on the requested changes. To say he made frequent trips to London would be an understatement.
In the summer of 2004, the Film Council required two "proof of concept" demonstrations from each vendor finalist. Schiffman, of course, supported both efforts.
A test Lab was established in London's National Film Theatre at the British Film Institute. An early servier is located in the middle rack below Jonathon Smiles' elbow.
In early 2005, the project was awarded -
TOPEKA, KS—26 February 2005— Following an extensive evaluation and competitive bid process, QuVIS servers will be installed by Arts Alliance Digital Cinema for the UK Film Council’s digital screen network. Arts Alliance Digital Cinema will supply QuVIS Cinema Players ™ for a network of up to 250 screens throughout the UK as a core part of the UK Film Council’s strategy for improving access to specialized film and broadening the range of films available to audiences throughout the UK.
“Access to specialized film is currently restricted across the UK. . . the choice for many outside these (major) areas remains limited, and the Digital Screen Network will improve access for audiences across the UK,” said Pete Buckingham, head of Distribution and Exhibition at the UK Film Council.
Unfortunately, in the fall of 2006, for reasons still unclear today, QuVIS management disbanded almost their entire sales force, including the entire International team. In early 2007, Arts Alliance Media and the UKFC chose to terminate the agreement with the company, and replace all QuVIS products with a competitor's solution.