For years I’ve wanted to visit Kaleidescape’s corporate headquarters, but time and circumstances just never made the visit possible. But during my recent visit to the Bay Area, I made a special trip to Sunnyvale to meet with the team and tour through Kaleidescape’s new offices.
Located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, you pass some tech heavyweights such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft on your way to 570 Maude Court in Sunnyvale. The company keeps a low profile. In fact, the outside of the building is so non-descript I had to call to make sure I was at the right place. But once inside, with movie memorabilia, DVD box sets, and movie servers at most workstations, it’s clear that you’re in the right place.
Box Set Wall
As a company that caters to movie lovers, it isn’t surprising that Kaleidescape has amassed an impressive collection of DVD and Blu-ray special box sets. Some of the staff’s favorites line one of the long walls of the office.
Cheena Srinivasan and Michael Malcolm
Just prior to my visit, Kaleidescape had a scheduled board of directors meeting, and when the meeting concluded I got a chance to meet with Kaleidescape’s co-founders, Cheena Srinivasan and Michael Malcolm. Cheena took some time to sit down and chat for a bit and lead me around the offices to meet many of the staff.
If you’ve ever called or emailed Kaleidescape for tech support, you’ve likely spoken to Rusty Johnson, senior technical support engineer. I’ve worked with Rusty for years but had never had a chance to actually meet him. Rusty shuttles between two work areas where he can monitor systems, check log files to discover issues, test hardware, and try to replicate issues.
Meet Gerald Corpuz, manager, content operations. Gerald’s main focus is getting content ready for Kaleidescape’s Movie Store. Gerald is standing by a whiteboard where he tracks the progress of different films as their files come in from different studios for preparation and QC before being made available to owners for purchase and download.
A huge part of what makes the Kaleidescape user experience so terrific is its curated Movie Guide. While multiple employees take part in Movie Guide Services, the senior Movie Guide specialist is Becky Fong. Using the company’s Guide Tools, Becky prepares all new movies and TV shows for the company’s database. When we visited Becky, she was adding American Gothic to the database, and she walked me through the process.
After a high-resolution scan of the box art is made, Becky loads the disc into a special engineering version of a Cinema One and manually bookmarks the start and end points of each episode on the disc. She types in each episode title, enters the names of cast and crew, marks all of the disc’s special features, confirms the aspect ratio of each episode, marks the point at which the credits start for any users that have triggered settings such as lighting cues, and more. After she’s finished and confirmed the bookmarks are working correctly, the data is uploaded to the company’s servers where it is then automatically pushed out to system owners every evening.
The man in charge of improving Kaleidescape’s user experience is Michael Kobb. Some of Michael’s recent updates include grouping multiple versions of the same title into the best version that the connected system can handle. For example, if you owned the UHD HDR, UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD versions of the same movie, instead of showing four different covers, it will now just display the best version the system can support. You can then manually select a different version of the film if you choose to. Michael also showed how special features across multiple versions are now all grouped together, making it easier for owners to find and explore content.
Michael took me inside Kaleidescape’s demo theater, where we compared the quality difference of UHD versus UHD HDR, easily demonstrating just how much of an improvement the wider color gamut and higher dynamic range make on a film. Michael also gave me a special “off the record” sneak peek into some of the upcoming features he’s been working on.
Kaleidescape owns virtually every DVD and Blu-ray disc that has ever been released, and the company keeps all of the discs in a room called the vault, of which Luke O’Brien, director, content operations, gave me a tour. I expected this to be a huge room like a library with discs lined up and stored in their cases, but it turns out that keeping more than a quarter-million discs like that wouldn’t be practical. Instead, all discs are kept in sleeves in pull-out drawers. Discs are stored as they are cataloged, not alphabetically, so each disc is coded with its location in the vault, so it can be retrieved later on.
Luke also walked me through the process of how the company bookmarks iconic scenes from films. As you can imagine, the company is filled with film lovers, so after viewing the film, the team agrees on the top four-to-six iconic moments which are then bookmarked in a process similar to how information is entered into the Movie Guide. Due to slightly different run times, Blu-rays, DVDs and digital downloads are all scene marked individually. During my visit Luke was finishing marking the scenes for Bad Moms.