by Damian Wardle, VP of Worldwide Theatre Technology & Presentation, Cinemark
In 1985, while most of us were enjoying Back to the Future and its creation of a DeLorean time machine, Camille Rizko was busy unknowingly creating the future of digital cinema by establishing Doremi Laboratories Inc. Today, with Doremi celebrating 30 years as a global presence in the theatrical industry, it is only fitting that Camille is being recognized in the BOXOFFICE Hall of Fame for all he has done for the industry.
Camille was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, but he moved to France to attend universities in Nice and later Paris, where he received an engineering degree from what is known today as Centrale-Supélec. Camille then relocated to Southern California, where he earned an MBA at UCLA. It was during his tenure at UCLA that Camille’s entrepreneurial streak started and where he introduced himself to the cinema industry by becoming a distributor for post-production devices.
After graduating, Camille literally started Doremi from his garage. (Note to self: that is probably why he is so crazy about cars today.) It wasn’t much later that his brother, Emil Rizko, and Safar Ghazal joined him in the business. After asking himself, “What can I do for this industry?” Camille introduced his first product, the DAWN (Digital Audio Workstation Nucleus), an audio editing device with the capability to play eight high-quality audio tracks from one hard disk. However, it was the debut of the V1 in 1994 that put Doremi on the map. Camille conceived what would be considered the first DVR, turning his successful start-up into a global company and opening facilities in France and Japan. It was Camille’s design that replaced the commonly used VCR.
Camille’s experience with the V1 and other video products gave him a tremendous springboard into digital cinema. In 2004, working from a request from Texas Instruments, Doremi created a server for the emerging digital cinema market. Under Camille’s leadership, Doremi produced the DCP-2000 Digital Cinema Player and the DMS-2000 Digital Mastering Station, both JPEG2000 compression projects. After Camille’s demonstration of a playback of a DCP at CineEurope in 2005, Doremi received thousands of orders.
In 2009, when exhibitors were opting for a 4K digital solution, Camille led the charge with TI and Barco to develop a 4K DLP solution with the first 4K integrated media block (IMB) in the market. After this accomplishment, Doremi simply dominated the digital cinema server market.
In all the years I have known Camille, I’ve always been impressed at his ability to balance what the customer wants with what he envisions for the future of the industry. When he is challenged with a product request, one can literally see the ideas flowing in his mind. The attention he pays to his customers’ needs and his willingness to be flexible in such a changing industry are invaluable. No matter how large Doremi grew, Camille’s leadership and vision still remained the rudder that steered the company toward success.
It’s hard to pinpoint Camille’s single greatest contribution to the industry. The answer will vary; studios may claim the V1 forever changed post-production, while exhibitors still delight in the creation of the DPC-2000 and the 4K IMB. However, one point is difficult to argue-Camille’s mark on the industry is definitely significant. His creations touch hundreds of millions of moviegoers around the world each year. With the combined efforts now of both Dolby and Doremi, the digital entertainment sector can only expect more ingenious products and industry-leading technological innovations from the newly formed giant. Personally, I cannot wait to see what Camille creates next.