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A place for innovation

Film lovers and fans of cutting-edge technology alike soon will be able to enjoy a cinematic experience that was previously unavailable in the Midwest.

The state-of-the-art technology currently being installed in Indiana University's newly restored IU Cinema (formerly the University Theatre building) is the product of an innovative alliance between Indiana University and Sony Electronics.

"Having this level of cinema technology installed into a restored historic venue is something that this part of the country previously has yet to see," said IU Cinema Director Jon Vickers.

Cinema Innovation

Ground was laid for the elegant 300-seat IU Cinema in 2007 when IU and Sony Electronics signed a first-of-its-kind agreement that allow both partners to explore new applications in high-definition broadcasting and media production technologies.

The unique collaboration will extend to future projects that support digital workflows and technologically enhanced lifestyles. Potential IU-Sony research activities include immersive technologies such as virtual reality, 3-D video and 3-D animation, as well as the development of new communications tools to engage teachers and students.

"The belief was that Indiana University and Sony have an opportunity to leverage their unique competencies and reputations to create a mutually beneficial relationship that is relatively new to higher education and the corporate world," said IU Vice President for Information Technology and CIO Brad Wheeler of the collaboration, now entering its third year.

Vickers said that having strong working relationships with the industry's technological leaders -- such as Sony, Dolby and THX -- is imperative to positioning the IU Cinema among the top echelon of the nation's university theaters.

"Having a strategic alliance in the order of what Sony and IU have developed over the years is even a step up," Vickers said. "Both Sony and IU will continue to look for opportunities to test new technologies or research new applications for existing products."

Sony Electronics is in the process of installing a full range of technologies at the IU Cinema. Included are dual 16mm/35mm film projectors, as well as 2K and 4K digital cinema projectors. In addition to these are the playback decks for every HD format imaginable. Sony and subcontractor Media Vision have expertly planned and managed the installation, and the IU Cinema has commissioned THX certification of the system, to assure the best movie-going experience.

"The benefit to having state-of-the-art equipment will be most realized by the patrons and cinephiles who come to the cinema," Vickers said. "The key is access. Having reel-to-reel 35mm and 16mm systems allows us to borrow prints from any major archive in the world — the British Film Institute, the Deutsche Film Institute and the Academy Archive — while our 2K and 4K digital cinema systems will provide the best screening capabilities for any digital format. We will have access to nearly any title in the very best possible format available in the world."

Sony and IU also are exploring academic uses of current and new Sony products, and will consider developing new products to meet specific needs. Both are gaining greater insight into students' increasingly digital lifestyles, and IU students also now benefit from internships created by Sony.

Students and faculty members at various IU campuses have been recipients of Sony Scholarships that provide laptops to facilitate scholarly work in fields as diverse as urban education, theater and drama, psychology, nutritional science, health services management, nonprofit management and molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

Technologies involved in this non-exclusive alliance include Sony's full line of HD broadcast and production products, such as studio and field cameras, the XDCAM HD line of optical disc-based camcorders and decks and more. The alliance supported the upgrade of the IU Radio-Television Services broadcast equipment to high definition. In 2008, Sony provided high definition equipment to help the IU School of Journalism launch a new video journalism initiative in England about World War II.

"Sony is a world leader in digital lifestyles, from its consumer line all the way through its higher-end products," Wheeler said. "We're a world-leading IT university. There are opportunities to do some things of interest around understanding the millennials, this generation of students and how they interact with digital media."

A place for film

The majestic building that once housed the University Theatre will reopen in January 2011 as the new Indiana University Cinema, a world-class space for the scholarly study of film and the highest standards of exhibition of film in its traditional and modern forms.

The recently updated space seamlessly blends the building's classic 1930s architecture with modern lines, featuring several panels of the historic Indiana Murals painted by Thomas Hart Benton for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. One of just 10 THX-certified university cinemas across the country, IU Cinema offers the highest quality motion picture experience available, with the best in 16mm and 35mm film projectors, as well as 2K and 4K digital cinema equipment, all of which were expertly installed by Sony.

IU Cinema will host film premieres and rare archival screenings, film festivals, conferences, filmmaker retrospectives and silent films accompanied by live music. Space will also be available for lectures, visiting film scholars and screening of materials from the IU Archives, including the Black Film Center Archive, the David Bradley Collection and the Peter Bogdanovich Collection.

The IU Cinema will strive to become one of the best public screening rooms in the country — eventually, with a film program to match — offering patrons an unforgettable, unparalleled service experience. Along with outstanding programming and exhibitions, the IU Cinema will develop touring film programs, commission new silent film scores, initiate restorations and partner with established cinemas across the U.S. to build exceptional intercollegiate programs.

For more information about IU Cinema, see