That’s a wrap – old film canned for new splice of life

WOKING’S award-winning independent cinema has gone all out for digital delivery.

All screens at the Ambassador complex have been tuned into the times and the Peacock Centre venue, which won the national Independent Cinema Award in 2009, has pulled the plug on its big and bulky 35mm operation in favour of a little laptop.

Two screens had previously been converted to digital but last week’s transformation has meant all six have gone all the way, with two of them geared up for 3D specials.

WIRED FOR SOUND AND VISION – Ambassador’s Jack Valentine
WIRED FOR SOUND AND VISION – Ambassador’s Jack Valentine

The switch comes after the recent TV change over and Jack Valentine, who has been maintenance manager at the Ambassador for nearly 10 years, admits the cinema had little choice but to keep pace with the times.

He added: “We can’t rest on our laurels in this business. We are always having to move ­forward.”

Jack, 60 – who lives in New Haw with his wife Kim and children, Katie, 14, and Tommy, 12 – and his deputy Rob Brennan are responsible for maintaining the equipment for the cinemas and the New Victoria and Rhoda ­McGraw
theatres (except for the stages).

All the new projectors are up and running and, Jack said: “The old projector reels are 4ft or 5ft wide and would need two per film – one to unroll the 35mm film and the other to ­rewind it on to.

Now the films, which come in cartridge form instead of the huge reels, are ­programmed remotely by ­laptop.”

Ambassador general manager Callum Kemp, 44, who lives in Bisley with wife Gemma and children Ella, four ,and Lottie, two, started out in the business working in the box office in 1992.

He said: “I can see that ­within 12 months, a lot of ­independent cinemas that haven’t moved on to ­digital will, sadly, have to close down as suppliers will stop making 35mm film because it costs so much compared to the cartidges.

“Fortunately for independents like us, there’s the Digital Funding Partnership.

“It’s a complicated ­process but basically means that savings generated by not having to produce costly 35mm films enables funding towards stand-alones to install the new equipment at great discount – otherwise it wouldn’t be ­possible.

“It means we can continue to pay for the suppliers’ films as they come out in cartridge form.”

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