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ShoWest goes with digital flow

Confab sets aside special area

Hoping to retain the momentum from last year’s “Star Wars” sneak peak, ShoWest organizers are setting aside an entire ballroom at the March confab for digital projection demos by five companies.

A sixth company will show its digital wares at a different location.

The debut of the special digital area is a sign of technology’s inroads in showbiz — and of ShoWest’s rising clout. The Las Vegas trade show, which runs March 6-9, has added 33% more floor space and 20% more booths over last year’s edition.

“It’s another step forward,” Milt Moritz, ShoWest general chairman, told Daily Variety. “These companies are on the scene and these companies are the ones with the technology people want to see.”

The Las Vegas Ballroom of Bally’s, which is hosting ShoWest along with the neighboring Paris hotel-casino, will see daily demos from And Action, Digital Projection, Christie, Barco, Real Image Digital Technology and a sixth unidentified firm.

Texas Instruments, whose new projection system was used to show last year’s trailer for “Star Wars, Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” will not be part of the designated digital area, Moritz said.

More than 650 booths are planned at the confab, compared with about 550 last year. The square footage for the trade show is projected at 121,000, up from 88,000.

None of the studio pics or trailers will be shown in the digital format, Moritz said.

One of the high points of last year’s ShoWest came when TI and CineComm offered side-by-side comparisons between digital projection systems and traditional 35mm film.

Most conventioneers agreed that both nearly attained the goal of eliminating the imperfections of celluloid. But questions still abound about digital projection and distribution. Moritz hopes this year’s ShoWest will offer some answers.

“We were the first ones to do a side-by-side demo,” Moritz said. “And this time we have more in store.”

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