Film-Tech Cinema Systems
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Houston, TX

The world's first truly automated projection booth.

This is Studio Movie Grill's 7th theater. The theater officially opened to the public on March 9, 2009.

It is located in the new City Centre district of Houston, TX.

The theater is on the second floor of the building. The future tenant below is as of yet undetermined.

Escalators lead the way to the entrance. There is also a parking garage on the other side of the entrance.

The main entrance.

The main entrance, a little closer.

Box office.

The lobby, north and west walls.

The lobby, west and south walls.

The bar.

Poster cases by the exit.

Main theater entrance hallway.

Far end of the main theater entrance hallway.

You may have noticed these lights. They are activated when there is X and Y minutes remaining in the movie before the end credits start to help assist the ushers and waiters.

This is a typical auditorium entrance, except of course that this auditorium features Dolby 3D.

This is a medium sized auditorium. All auditoriums have side masking, as they should be.

Reverse shot of a medium auditorium.

The exterior at night.

The escalators at night.

The box office at night as customers arrive.

The lobby at night.

This location features a scene change at 9pm each day. The projector automations are setup to dim various lighting in the lobby, change the music content and increase the volume automatically to change the mood.

These pictures were taken on a mildly busy night. Often the lobby gets very crowded as people pile in.

Besides a scene change at night, the entire building is automated through the projection system. All of the lighting in the lobby, outside signage, main hallway, restrooms, etc and HVAC is programmed to work in conjunction with the movie schedule based off of various parameters such as "X number of minutes before the first show of the day do A, B and C". This achieves maximum energy efficiency since all of the systems in the building are working from the movie schedule rather than a hard-programmed on/off timer.

Ok, ok, this is a movie website and you've had enough pictures of the lobby. We get it. Let's go to the booth.

And here it is. This projection booth as designed and built by Film-Tech is COMPLETELY automated. There are some other theaters who claim they have automated their booths, but not like this. Gone are even the little pesky things like turning on breakers and pushing content around the building!

These projectors monitor the ticketing system and perform various tasks based off of the movie schedule. For example, each auditorium self-powers itself on 45 minutes before the first movie of each day...and if nobody buys a ticket to the last show of the day, it powers itself off 15 minutes after the last scheduled start time in that auditorium! (Of course the rooftop exhaust continues to run for another 10 minutes to protect the bulb.)

We are using a mixture of Christie ZX (pictured here) and SB projectors in the building. QSC amplifiers and speakers are used top to bottom throughout the building, along with their Basis system which replaces the need for a sound processor, such as the traditional Dolby CP650.

This is the first generation of these automated racks designed and built by Film-Tech. They are 3 feet deep because there is equipment both front and rear loaded in them. Future versions of the racks to be available this summer will be greatly simplified, fully pre-programmed and designed for an effortless installation! (Hey, we had to build a system once to prove it could be done, then we streamline it.)

Closeup shot of a Christie ZX with a MALM (motorized auxiliary lens mount) for running scope content.

Here is a shot of the Christie SB model projector. This particular one has been outfitted with the Dolby 3D system.

Reverse shot of the SB. We forgot to get more pictures of the racks, but the top of the rack has two Shure wireless mic receivers, a blu-ray player, a scaler, video schedule timeline and alternative content preview monitor, operator controls and receptacles for external AV equipment such as a laptop, USL ECI-60 for audio format switching, USL CM-680 booth monior, the QSC sound system, UPS battery backup, and an IMMENSELY customized CA21 automation along with various other items necessary for total automation are rear-loaded.

In the middle of the booth are the Matrix/IT racks.

The left rack is the Matrix rack for projection, and the right two racks were built by Network Advisor and are for the computer systems used downstairs for box office, food orders and such.

Shot of the front side of the Matrix rack. The rear of the rack is loaded with the automation computers and also is where the various connections for the building automation reside. This rack also serves as the central library for the DCI content and preshow. Do note this system is designed to have ANY movie ready to play on ANY screen with a mere 8 minute warning. All the manager has to do on his end is to enter his desired show schedule into his ticketing system like normal, and the projection system follows it! (The Film-Tech NOC monitors the entire building and handles building the playlists and loading KDMs each week so the manager can concentrate on running the theater.)

This is a medium sized auditorium before the screen went up.

The back of a rack.

The back of a rack with the door open. (We forgot to get a picture of the main automation wiring board that is sandwiched in between these panels and the front equipment, but trust us it is a very tight fit in there.)

The bottom rear of a rack.

And the only picture that was taken during the install, featuring Josh Jones on his first digital install.

Photos from the Brad Miller / Josh Jones collection.

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