If you run a cinema, you want to spend your time on things that make a difference to your customers. Ensuring the highest quality projection, giving them outstanding customer service, and creating a unique movie-going experience that will make them come back again and again. What you probably don’t want to waste time on are the mundane behind the scenes tasks that could be automated anyway.
In today’s technology powered world, there are many ways you can harness tech to make your cinema more efficient. Here are 6 ways to get started:
1. Don’t go to each projector to see what’s going on
If your cinema has several screens then having to run from one projection booth to the next to check all is running smoothly wastes a lot of time. If instead you can see real-time status of all your screens and equipment from one place, it’s much easier to keep an eye on everything.
You can see exactly what’s happening right now, what’s coming up next, and also easily see if anything needs fixing, all through one dashboard in your TMS (Theatre Management System). Showing you real time information from each screen, including what’s currently playing, how long until the credits start, whether your lamp is on or not and much more, can save you time and effort.
2. Build your schedules once, not twice
Connecting your Point of Sale (POS) system to your TMS means that you don’t have to create schedules once in your POS and then replicate them in your TMS – the TMS can build your schedule automatically from POS information.
3. Stop worrying about KDMs
Finding, ingesting, moving and checking KDMs can consume a huge amount of time – but it doesn’t have to. If you can automate the KDM process, you make your cinema much more efficient.
Setting up an email inbox specifically for KDMs helps make this easy. If all your KDMs come to (for example) firstname.lastname@example.org then software can automatically scan that inbox, find all the KDMs, work out which screen they are for, and send them automatically to the screen server. So without having to do anything, all your KDMs are in the right place and ready for playout.
If you later move content to a different screen, your software can tell you in advance if there’s a valid KDM for the new screen, and alert you if there isn’t.
When the schedule is programmed into the TMS, or when it changes, there’s no need to spend time manually moving the content from screen to screen. The TMS can do all this for you, making sure the relevant content is on the right screen server, and also making sure that any KDMs needed are in the right place too. (And if in fact there isn’t a valid KDM for that particular screen, you’ll know immediately so you can fix the problem before you lose a show).
Compiling reports is another manual process that is time consuming and error-prone. Whether it’s playback reporting, or information that you’re trying to compile from various equipment such as projectors or servers, the time taken to find and present the right data can be better spent.
It’s much more efficient to have that information collected automatically, and made available to users, wherever they are, in a format that’s easy to search, filter and understand.
Being able to build exactly the reports that you need, so you see the information that’s important to you, helps you focus on what matters most to your business.
All of these steps can make cinemas of any size much more efficient. But for cinema circuits with several sites, these efficiencies can be multiplied by centralising some of these tasks at head office. Not only does it mean that tasks can be performed once, rather than taking time at each site repeatedly, but it provides consistency and means less room for error.
Managing pre-show can be done across a circuit much more efficiently at head office. For example, a specific trailer pack built for all sites on the east coast and targeted at weekend shows can be created once and sent down to each site, where the playlist is automatically built and the content inserted ready to play out.
For a head office looking after multiple sites, when they are all connected it means information can be viewed in one place. So whether it’s being able to see the sites that are missing content, or which screen have which specific equipment models or software versions, all the information is at your fingertips, without having to contact each site.
Cinemas can’t (yet) be run completely by machines. People are still vitally important in making sure the programming is what people want to see, that the picture and sound quality are exemplary, and providing personal customer service that makes the cinema experience special. But by relying more on technology to help with some of the routine admin tasks, cinemas can become much more efficient, and free up staff to be where they can really make a difference.