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A film star
Article taken from "Fieldbus & Networks", issue 259 - June 2003

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Cinemeccanica uses Automa's Super-Flash to supervise more than 200 installations achieved in multi-screen cinematographic complex.

By the Editorial Team

Since 1920 Cinemeccanica is working in the construction of equipments for cinematographic plants.
In 1966, the company developed for the first time the entire technological part of a multi-screen complex in Kansas City, and after this successful step the leading cinematographic companies around the world started to contact this company, located in Milan (Italy), with the purpose of automizing their own structures.
The multi-screen complex changes the cinema itself: from a simple enjoyment place for a film show to a 360-degree entertainment structure with fast-food, restaurants, baby-parking and videogames. Thanks to the numerous screen rooms it is possible to choose among various films that are scheduled to be shown at different times: the showings start at different times with a 10-15 minute margin between each other.
The achievement of a multi-screen complex has increased not only the quality of the client service, but also the reduction of management costs. That became possible thanks to the presence of more screen rooms with different dimensions that were offering the possibility to choose, depending on the number of users, in which and in how many screen rooms show a specified film. A leading film, for example, could be shown in more screen rooms.

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Layout multi-screen complex

On the other hand, it is possible to get connected various motion-picture projectors between them (master-slave chains) in a way that the same film can be used to show in more than one screen room. It permits to reduce the renting costs of each film which is one of the priorities of Cinemeccanica's attivities.

Let's get the showing started!
Achieving a multi-screen cinematographic complex means considering the obstacles that may come up when trying to attune the work of the various motion-picture projection systems, showing and enlargement, and coordinating different screen rooms simultaneously.
The showing process starts when the operator inserts the film in the motion-picture projector and after this the rest of the operations are developed automatically. When the established starting time comes up the motion-picture projector engine starts working switching on its light. The successive action is the automatic setting of the lights and sounds. Only when everything is all set the motion-picture projector starts illuminating the screen and showing the film.
Thanks to Super-Flash, Automa's development system for supervision applications, Cinemeccanica was able to automize this process successfully, allowing the supervision of all the screen rooms from a single workstation at the same time. Each motion-picture projector is controlled by a Saia PLC, connected through a RS485 network to a central PC using S-BUS protocol.
In the supervision application main interface it is possible to control the status of all motion-picture projectors, from their good working (alarm status) to their operating state (working, stand-by, stopped).

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Super-Flash screen

Three event types are identified for each screen room: interval, when the motion-picture projector is not working or is in stand-by status; out of program, when shorts or trailers are being shown; film, when the film is being shown.
For each showing phase there are previously identified the light level - high, low and off -, the sound type - mono, stereo or dolby - and in which level, and the motion-picture projector objective type to be used according to the showing.
It is also possible to activate some controls like the ones used to switch off the air conditioning at the beginning of any film show in order to avoid the noise in the screen room, and control auxiliary equipments like animated advertising posters, and the opening/closing doors.
In the end, it is possible to plan the activities of each showing in advance.
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