Par hitches trailer to fiber-optic highway

In a move that could dramatically change the way production is done in Hollywood, Paramount Pictures and Kaleidoscope Films have linked up via a Pacific Bell fiber-optic network.

The digital link-up of Paramount and Kaleidoscope, one of Hollywood’s oldest and most respected trailer houses, marks the first time that a major studio has joined onto such a network to expedite production work with outside facilities.

With the network in place, Kaleidoscope will now be able to produce versions of Paramount trailers and instantaneously transfer them to executives at Paramount’s in-house ad agency, 5555 Communications, for their approval. Changes can be made in a matter of seconds, saving valuable production time. Previously, trailers would be edited digitally, transferred to cassette and then sent by messenger to Paramount execs.

“They will see it in real time,” Kaleidoscope partner Steven Panama said. “We can talk to them over the phone while they look at the trailer. We’ll talk about the changes, make them on-line, call back and send it back to them.”

Once final versions of the work are approved by Par officials, the work can then be sent via the fiber-optic cable to the sub-contractors, who do much of the finishing work on trailers, such as effects and title designs.

While Paramount officially became part of the network Thursday, other production sub-contractors of Kaleidoscope, including Todd AO/Glen Glenn, Encore Video, Pacific Title, Pacific Digital, Mix Magic and ReZ.n8, are expected to be up and running on the network by the middle of April, thus paving the way for a digital highway running through Hollywood.

“For us, it’s an extension of human efficiency and cost savings,” said Arthur Cohen, Paramount’s president of worldwide marketing. “We can do our business better and get people to be more collaborative and less territorial about their ideas.”

The electronic merging of the two companies is a natural idea; Kaleidoscope has long turned out trailers for Paramount, including promos for “Indecent Proposal” and “The Firm,” in addition to the studio’s upcoming “Beverly Hills Cop III” and “Milk Money.” The company recently produced Par’s ShoWest ’94 product reel.

The announcement is the latest for PacBell and its fiber-optic technology. Earlier this week, the company announced that it would test a system to deliver movies over high-speed phone lines to close to a dozen L.A. area theaters later this year.

Based on PacBell’s Advanced Broadcast Video Service (ABVS), which was developed by Rich Mizer, the technology was originally developed for use in sports broadcasts. One of the earliest applications for the system occurred at Super Bowl XXVI in 1992.

One of the most publicized uses of PacBell’s ABVS was director Steven Spielberg’s viewing work from satellite footage from “Jurassic Park,” while in Krakow, Poland, shooting “Schindler’s List.” According to Panama, whose company produced trailers for both “Jurassic” and “Schindler,” it was the director’s use of the technology that inspired him to approach Paramount with the idea of going on-line.

Panama said other studios, including Universal, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox, have expressed some interest in connecting onto the network.

“Conceptually it seems like a great idea,” said a studio marketing executive. “Any way you can do the same quality job without driving across Los Angeles is great. Until there’s something to prove otherwise, I’m certainly open to it. Were looking upon it with enthusiasm.”

According to Cohen, there are other practical applications to this new technological link.

“The natural extension is that within a year, when we are done with a spot, we can on-line it right to a station or a network carrier,” Cohen said. “That will take away another whole step in the distribution of trailers.”

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