Experiencing cinema

DxD Showcase, Week 5: User Experience Design Part 2, BDES1003

Ivanna Gurina
Oct 2, 2018 · 6 min read

What is the product or service?

A movie theatre, cinema or cinema hall is a building that contains an auditorium for viewing films (also called movies) for entertainment. The film is projected with a movie projector onto a large projection screen at the front of the auditorium while the dialogue, sounds and music are played through a number of wall-mounted speakers.

A movie theatre may also be referred to as a movie theater, movie house, film house, film theater or picture house. In the US, theater has long been the preferred spelling, while in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere it is theatre.


Traditionally a movie theatre, like a stage theatre, consists of a single auditorium with rows of comfortable padded seats, as well as a foyer area containing a box office for buying tickets. Movie theatres also often have a concession stand for buying snacks and drinks within the theatre’s lobby. Other features included are film posters, arcade games and washrooms.

When was cinema first made available? Who is responsible for creating it?

  • The Berlin Wintergarten theatre was the site of the first cinema, with a short silent film presented by the Skladanowsky brothers in 1895. L’Idéal Cinéma at Aniche, opened on 23 November 1905, during the silent film era, and is the oldest still-active cinema in the world. (The Berlin Wintergarten theatre is in the photo above)
  • The first Dutch cinema was opened in 1906 in the Damstraat in Amsterdam. It was a small theatre run by an American living in Berlin by the name of Andrew Rawson Jennings.
  • F.A. Nöggerath was among the first entrepreneurs to open a cinema. On 7 September 1907, the Bioscope Theater was formally opened for business. Unlike other cinema owners.
  • When film distribution finally started in the Netherlands in 1909–1910, showmen could affordably acquire films. From that time on, cinemas were started up with regularity, creating a cinema ‘boom’ in the Netherlands — only a few years behind its neighbours.

What inspired it/what is it based on?


The first buildings used for theatrical performances were amphitheatres introduced by the Romans, who copied theatres from ancient Greece (The ancient Greeks built open-air theatres where the public could watch the performances of Greek comedy, tragedy, and satyr plays). These were semi-circular structures, constructed of wood initially and later stone. They were opened to the air with banked seating surrounding a raised stage. Interest in theatre increased during the Stuart period. Many rich courtiers and aristocrats hosted touring theatrical productions in their homes. Masques too were a popular form of recreation for the royal court and the very rich, often commissioned for celebrations. They would involve music, dance and elaborate costumes and scenery. The architect Inigo Jones devised the sets for several royal masques, and later went on to design theatre buildings. He had toured Italy and France and was heavily influenced by their designs. He is also attributed with introducing the first proscenium arch — a decorative architectural frame over a thrust stage.

In what ways do cinema theatres relate to the readings this week?

In chapter User Experience and Experience Design from the book The Encyclopedia Of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed., the author, Marc Hassenzahl, discuss experience created and shaped through technology. He talks about a Philips’ Wake-Up Light, a crossing of an alarm clock and a bedside lamp, which simulates birdsong and sunrise. Mainly it is an example of Experience or User Experience, which is not about good industrial design, multi-touch, or fancy interfaces, but about transcending the material and creating an Experience through a device. Similar thing we can understand from another example, namely from the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Main character has chosen Experience over the material (pp 1–7).

Same speculations on Experience or User Experience theme can be made regarding cinema. When we want to watch a film, we have to buy a ticket. After that we are “experiencing cinema” with the help of devices, such as movie projector, projection screen and wall-mounted speakers. But referring purely to experience we are receiving, visiting a cinema is totally not about the material.

Few words, that author uses for giving the description of Experience or User Experience (which are related to cinema experience in particular) (p 10):

  • inseparable
  • meaningful
  • subjective
  • holistic
  • situated
  • dynamic
  • worthwhile.

Another case author explains is related to a text message (pp 10–12). A digital device (phone), which is considered to be a material thing, was used to create positive emotions, which are not. Based on this, we can come to the conclusion that visiting a cinema is a straight example of receiving post-materialistic experience, as far as showing a movie requires expensive digital devices.

In the section 3.7, the author, Eric L. Reiss claims that User Experience is not necessarily related to a device, as was in the example about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, unless we define the golden ticket as a “device” (p 25). It is another thought that makes watching a movie post-materialistic. Showing a movie does not require just digital devices, though they do not connect with customers straightly. The ones, who want to visit a cinema, have to buy another “device”, a ticket.

What can we learn from the cinema? What are the potential design implications and opportunities?

Thing, that we can learn from cinema theatres, is that people through centuries wanted to see another people’s acting, because it was always valuable (or just entertaining) Experience. The idea of cinema is lying in the distant past and now, with the help of digital devices and contemporary opportunities we are able to create at first post-materialistic and at second qualitative User Experience. We can learn that people much frequently choose experiential orientation over material. For instance, humans will rather go to a live concert to listen to music than buy a CD for the same reason.

There is no doubt that establishments for watching movies and the movies themselves will continue to evolve more and more in the future. Nowadays cinemas have already got a lot of modern features and technologies, which promote comfort of the watching and immersion in the picture, but for sure User Experience of Cinema will be even more inseparable, meaningful, subjective, holistic, situated, dynamic and worthwhile with time.


Discussion Questions:

Do you chose material things over experience much frequently? How do you estimate experience received through the cinema? Is it worse time/money?


Ivanna Gurina

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