Empire Cinemas Update and Future-Proof 17 Multiplex Theatres

Empire Cinemas in the U.K. uses HDBaseT-enabled extenders from WyreStorm to connect new Barco digital projectors with loudspeakers.

CI Staff

Editor’s Note: In this excerpt from the HDBaseT eBook, the following is reprinted with permission from the HDBaseT Alliance. To read more from the eBook click here.

The competition for Empire Cinemas is not limited to other movie theatres, but rather it’s the same that other commercial cinemas face these days: consumers who rely more on watching movies on their high-definition televisions, laptops, tablets and even smartphones.

Executives at Empire Cinemas, which operates 17 modern multiplex cinemas throughout the U.K., know they have to create an immersive viewing experience that audiences cannot replicate anywhere else.

So Empire is replacing all 35mm projectors with digital projectors, which provide a much sharper picture and support 7.1-channel surround sound. Empire Cinemas has implemented HDBaseT-enabled WyreStorm extenders sets to not only keep the projects on time and on budget, but also to future-proof the new equipment.

Each Empire Cinemas theatre, including those in its flagship facility in Leicester Square, features seating supporting from 120 up to 350 people with screens up to 18 meters/60 feet wide.

“I chose WyreStorm equipment for many of our multiplexes due to the speed and ease of installation we enjoy, combined with an excellent compatibility with our audio and projection equipment,” says Andre Mort, technical director for Empire Cinemas. “There’s also the reliability factor to consider, which is vital with our audi- ence numbers attending multiple viewings in multiple screens, day in and day out.”

The HDBaseT technology enables connectivity between the digital projectors and audio components through a single 100-meter/328-foot Cat 5e/6 cable. For commercial projects installers can save time and money by running the single Cat cable.

“The installation process was very, very easy and it only took a few minutes,” adds Mort. “35mm film is being phased out because digital is a much more versatile technology that allows for an upgrade path to a format such as 4K or UHD. That upgrade path will be much easier because we can connect components using HDBaseT and one inexpensive cable that is cost effective and stable.”

Mort implemented the following components:

  • Large-format Barco projectors used on all screens at all multiplexes displaying scope at 2.39: 1 or flat 1.85 (16:9) with lamp ratings at 2kw 3kw, 4kw and 6.5kw dependent on screen and audience capabilities, respectively.
  • “Live events” fed over SDI at distances up to 75 meters/246 feet via an Arqiva Digital Cinema DVB at resolutions of 1080p 60Hz to Digital Barco series 2 15/12C and 32B projectors.
  • WyreStorm EX-1UTP-IR-100-HDBT HDBaseT extender sets capable of transmitting full 4K resolution, 48-bit color HD video and high quality HD audio with bidirectional control of source and display from either location to multiple screens throughout theatres distances up to 100 metres/328 feet.
  • WyreStorm SP-SDI-0104 SD/ HD/3G-SDI 1-to-4 distributor units (SP-SDI-0104) used for each of the eight Empire multiplexes currently showing live events.

Audio and video feeds to the Arqiva are connected through dedicated WyreStorm SDI 1-to-4 distribution units, which are in turn output via broadcast-quality patch panels with BNC type connectivity high- quality cabling utilized throughout.

One WyreStorm 1-to-4 SDI distribution unit transmits the video feed via a patch panel to the large-format Barco digital projectors, while the other 1-to-4 SDI distributor carries the audio stream, again via the patch panel, to the respective digital audio processors and amplified as multichannel audio to the high-performance speaker systems installed in the theatre auditoriums.

“We have been running this particular WyreStorm HDBaseT product model for over a year now, with it proving a robust and reliable unit with excellent video and audio quality along with a high feature count,” says Mort. “That is critically important when running a cinema.”