Ushio Europe

FNCF 2022: Ushio’s Pierre-Olivier Bancal tips a French Cinema comeback

This article is also available in French and German!

Following an exhilarating unveiling in Cannes and at CineEurope, Pierre-Olivier Bancal and Christelle Pelle-Baguet represent Ushio’s Xenon Cinema Stars, this time in Deauville, at the annual Congrès de la Federation Nationale des Cinemas Français (FNCF). The French seaside resort hosts FNCF 2022 from 19–22 September. As always, the team will be available to answer any queries regarding Ushio’s xenon lamps and services related to film and digital cinema projectors.

Every cinema owner has different needs and serving them is something that Pierre-Olivier Bancal has mastered over the past decades. At this year’s congress, Pierre-Olivier and his team will be at FNCF 2022 to discuss our superb lamp collection. Without a doubt, the star of the show is sure to be the highly-advanced DXL/LU (LUMINITY) digital projector lamp series. Ushio’s offering in the latest xenon generation, the handmade LUMINITY series marks a merger between prolonged lumen maintenance, fewer lamp changes, and minimised downtime.

Le retour de Bancal seulement á la FNCF 2022

When does FNCF 2022 begin?

FNCF 2022 began on Monday, September 19, 2022.
  • DXL: Audiences have the time of their lives with our brightest, high-power lamps. When Ushio’s clients are looking for sheer power, they look need no further than the DXL digital xenon projector lamp series. Using the correct DXL lamp guarantees DCI compliant brightness on the screen, and by ensuring compliance, motion pictures are displayed in glorious natural colour and vivid contrast, while audiences receive the best possible image. Due to the production of shorter arcs, DXL lamps deliver a higher lumen output, which goes a long way towards creating the clear and crisp image every cinema entrepreneur wants to provide for their audience. DXL lamps are certified by all major projector manufacturers.
  • DXL/L: The original long lifetime lamp series from Ushio. The L series offers low maintenance and fewer lamp replacements.
  • DXL/LU (LUMINITY): “The best of both worlds” – very long-life lamps, featuring exceptional lumen maintenance. The most advanced series of Ushio’s digital xenon projector lamps, DXL/LU (LUMINITY) ushers in a new era of unprecedented quality and profitability for cinema owners. Higher brightness had tended to mean shorter life, more replacements and, therefore, higher operating costs, but LUMINITY series takes long lamp lifetimes to the extreme without sacrificing performance. With 10% more lumens maintained over conventional xenon lamps, even after operating times in excess of 700–1000 hours, Ushio offers up to 500 additional warranty hours on the series. With breathtaking improvements to brightness and quality, LUMINITY customers benefit from fewer replacements and reduced operating costs. Certified for use by all major projector manufacturers, the arrival of even-longer lasting lamps is an important technical breakthrough for all xenon cinema operators.

Ushio offers sheer power, extended lifetime, and sustained brilliance with its three outstanding digital xenon cinema lamp collections at FNCF 2022

Xenon Cinema shines at FNCF 2022 despite tentative takings at the Box Office

As the post-COVID salvage operation goes on, cinema turns its focus to the next round of blockbusters hitting our screens and the expectation is that audience trends will begin to return to where they left off in 2019. In the meantime, society became fatigued by a plethora of streaming services and is eagerly embracing the opportunity to take part in shared experiences again. The hype surrounding long-awaited marquee productions has reached fever pitch, with the Avatar: The Way of Water teaser trailer clocking 148.6 million online views in its first 24 hours!

At the tail end of a critical period for the cinema industry, there is great hope mixed with uncertainty, as economic and political worries hold consumers back and compound the strains of the pandemic. The fall of 2021 saw the public embrace society’s reopening and the French box office reacted positively; the following quarter, however, brought a sharp drop in admissions and revealed the perilous fragility remaining in the business. In an industry-wide hour of need, hopes of recovery remain with a true underdog, as xenon cinema continues to tease the kind of climactic comeback any aging action star would be proud of.

Ushio France has its roots in Japan, but the bond with its courageous partners in France during this pandemic era resonates with an old Japanese proverb— nana korobi ya oki —“fall down seven times, get up eight.” Despite being brought to its knees again and again, the cinema industry keeps getting back up and dusting itself off, thanks to a collective resilience among the community.

Either industry trends pick-up where they left off, or we will see a lasting effect cinema operation. The coronavirus pandemic certainly led us down a new track, as the entire eco-system of theatrical presentation faltered, before urgently stabilising and adapting to the need for a slightly altered experience.

Ushio's Cinema team also visited Cannes Film Festival earlier in 2022
Ushio's Cinema team address the crowd at the CST Cocktail Hour (Cannes Film Festival 2022)

Important discussions on the recovery of French Cinema expected at FNCF 2022

As we enter autumn and winter, hygiene must be of high priority. No one wants another shutdown of their business in the face of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The best method is prevention. Cinemas were often declared one of the safest classes of venue, as they are generally large, air-conditioned spaces that can easily accommodate social distancing requirements. Ushio even entered the hygiene field itself, with the introduction of Care222® far UV-C disinfection technology, a filtered 222 nm excimer lamp. In a cinematic environment, Ushio subsidiary Christie has integrated the Care222® module into a solution called CounterAct, which continuously disinfects movie auditoriums from above, even when a screening is in progress.

Next to the obvious matter of hygiene concepts, the financial aspect of cinema seriously needs to be addressed. Investments, like interior refurbishment and new projectors, may need to be spread out over 6 or 7 years longer than normal. While this may present a problem if something is already passed its prime, it can be an opportunity in other areas: does a regular cinema really need all the latest gimmicks to deliver a high-quality audience experience?

Naturally, manufacturers will always strive to create “new and improved” products for their cinema customers, but a benefit for the customer does not always carry across equal benefit to the audience. Back in the 35 mm era, it was normal to get 30 years of use from a film projector, in some cases, they could go for more than 50 years without any complaints from the audience. In the digital age, after just 10 years, the recommendation to replace functioning equipment with newer models means we are neglecting the opportunity to get more out of our investments with spare parts and thorough maintenance. Who would have thrown money away like that in the 35 mm heyday?

Xenon projectors still deliver, next to many other advantages, vivid and natural looking images. During uncertain times like these, it makes sense to take the economical and environmentally friendly route and bring our older xenon projector (almost) back to its initial performance capabilities. To that end, a thorough cleaning of the light-engine is usually enough to get you back up to 90% of the initial brightness, and with it, picture quality that would make even a new laser projector proud. Between you and me, my eyes struggle to tell the difference between the two.

The iconic Ford Mustang Fastback did the job in 1968’s Bullit, as did the modified 1997 Peugeot 406 in Luc Besson’s Taxi; if well-maintained, they’d both still do the job, in 2022. If I were to hazard a guess, this is why studios want to view their graded footage with the natural colours provided by xenon projection; all the while, international film festivals continue to screen their award-winners with xenon instead of laser.

In recent times, manufacturers were understandably against prolonging the lifetime of last-generation projectors, despite only requiring proper care to keep them presenting movies at a very low cost. The logic behind this tactic is that they now have the next-generation projectors rolling off the production line, which are the new foundation of their revenue. As a result, most projector-makers halted xenon production, in spite of lingering demand from cinema owners.

That isn’t to say that that the different technologies can’t each have their place. After all, the discourse on the benefits of laser is easy to justify, but there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution in this industry. While the giants of the cinema business can afford the latest mod-cons, your average village screen is likely content to hang on to their older model. Throughout the cinema business, at every revenue level, there are diverse needs which all deserve careful consideration. Despite the various worthy options, none of the available technologies can lay claim to universal suitability.

Although projector production has admittedly wound down, xenon lamp manufacturers are still breaking new ground. Continued development and the careful maintenance of projection systems is bringing digital projection running costs to an all-time low. In fact, some manufacturers are still developing the technology to the point where cinemas no longer have to sacrifice brightness for longer lifetime.

At the end of the day, COVID-19 transformed many aspects of cinema operation in ways that cannot afford to be overlooked. When confronted by a question as a matter of survival and long-term recovery, it is time to look at the bigger picture and figure out what is best for your business. Does the classic car actually go faster if you paint stripes onto the body work? — Of course not. Can the majority of audiences tell the difference between xenon- and laser-lit screens? — Highly doubtful.

By asking these questions, you confront both the challenges and the opportunities at the same time. Whether you choose to move on to laser or stick with xenon, the decision in yours, and is one that must be taken carefully with consideration for your business and your audience.

Perhaps the right choice for you is to dive into laser and bid farewell to xenon, yet another option is to keep your xenon projector running, similarly for the sake of your bank balance and the continued enjoyment of your guests. It is worth more than just a passing thought. Our question to you is: “are you interested to know more?”

A recap of the Ushio Cinema Stars' trip to CineEurope 2022

Get your Ushio Xenon Cinema Lamps with Ushio at FNCF 2022

Can’t wait to see us at FNCF 2022? Get right up-to-date with Ushio’s xenon cinema lamp collection, by downloading our latest Xenon Cinema Projector Lamp brochure (available in French, English, and Russian). If you would like to make an enquiry regarding Ushio’s xenon cinema projector lamps, give us a call, or reach the Ushio team here:

Pierre-Olivier Bancal
Ushio France S.A.R.L.
+33 (0) 6 10 03 34 34