Reliance Buys Up More Businesses

In Hollywood, there's a debate about whether David Geffen and Steven Spielberg are using India's Reliance ADA Group to flush out a more local, Hollywood bidder. But meanwhile, the giant Indian conglom is going about its regular business -- buying companies and launching even more. In the past week, it has bowed a radio station, tied up a production deal with Bollywood's royal family and moved further into artist management.

It is also hoping to close its $38 billion deal to buy the South Africa-based multinational cell phone group MTN, which has operations in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East, "within the next couple of weeks," said Reliance Entertainment prexy Rajesh Sawhney. If it can pull it off, Reliance would join the top ranks of the world's top mobile groups -- with 115 million subscribers.

The Hollywood intrigues must feel familiar to group boss Anil Ambani. Although his Reliance ADAG is conducting due diligence on MTN, Reliance Industries, controlled by Anil's estranged brother Mukesh, is trying to wreck the deal.

"We see (the DreamWorks talks) as a parallel with the approach we are taking in telcos. There we have bought small tech companies, now we are buying MTN. That's a game changer," Sawhney told Daily Variety.
More than one option

Back in India, Reliance Entertainment announced that it had struck a joint venture with AB Corp., the family firm controlled by India's senior movie star, Amitabh Bachchan. Pact, which the local media dubbed the Big Bang, a play on Bachchan's "Big B" nickname (Reliance is busily rebranding its entertainment operations with the "Big" label), secures top names in a very tight talent market. The pair will make four or five movies with Bachchan either starring or producing and with production costs shared. Helmers R. Balki, Sujoy Ghosh, Rohan Sippy and Chandra Prakash Diwedi are apparently lined up.

Reliance Music has recently bought up film music rights to a number of movies in the regional Kannada language; now Reliance Entertainment has committed to making two movies in Kannada, one helmed by M.S. Sathyu, the other scripted and directed by Mohan.In Singapore, Reliance's Big 92.7 FM pacted with state radio broadcaster MediaCorp to launch Big Bollywood 96.3 FM, targeted at the Hindi expatriate community.

"We have got the vertical integration, now we aim to fill in the gaps, whether it is Bollywood or elsewhere, and to scale up," Sawhney said.

And whether the DreamWorks principals are yet ready to look beyond Ambani's cash, Reliance is keen to offer some of India's technology expertise as Hollywood confronts the digital age.

Reliance has substantial assets in digital technology and transmission. It boasts Asia's most advanced facility for producing 4K digital intermediates, thanks to the recent $300 million acquisition of Yipes. It is the only Indian cinema firm providing DCI-compliant 2K digital cinema systems. Recently, it acquired the digital imaging unit of U.S.-based DTS, which Sawhney is now ready to scale up.

By Patrick Frater, Variety

ACE Equipment Survey Results

Significant trends can be spotted in the 2007 Equipment Survey of ACE members: Final Cut Pro (FCP) is on the rise, the mini-series has all but disappeared, DI’s (Digital Intermediate: printing film for release from digital files) are taking over, and editing tools have a long way to go in reliability and speed.

The Numbers
105 surveys were returned. We have about 350 active members, so that is a pretty good response. Apple computers have only about 6% of the US PC market, but they represent 73% of the ACE editors market. Avid’s attempt to dump Apple has been a dismal mis-step.

Avid continues to dominate the offline world (79% to 21%). The other trend of note is the increase in Final Cut: up to 18%. Expect that trend to increase.

This is a difficult category to glean a trend, other than MOW’s and mini-series are going away.

Digital formats have risen from 10% in 2004 to around 32% in ’07. In 2007 for the first time recording to drives appears. The numbers do include shows that shoot multiple camera formats.

If 47% of the responses are from features and 46% of the responses in Delivery Format are DI’s, it seems that DI’s are dominating the feature film area.

Why? It is much more expensive to make a DI. Are the benefits monetary? Unlikely. Much like the change from editing with film to electronic editing: the creative and practical benefits are enormous, while the cost is much higher. Is it the director who is making this happen?

The push to use Final Cut Pro is to some extent economic. Universal Studios has been making a strong push for FCP in its television post. Fox Features seems to be making a push toward a FCP workflow.

This is always the most problematic area of the survey each year. Less than half of the editors choose the editing system they work on. The editor is the one person who should choose. Whomever is pushing the studios toward DI’s needs to help the editor choose the system he / she prefers.

Nearly 10% of the post was cut in HD. Look for this trend to grow.

33% of respondents categorize themselves as competent, or less than. As much as it may be comfortable to ignore the technical aspects of the editing room, those who do so will find employment opportunities shrinking as the world gets more technical rather than less. It is possible to be both a good editor and an expert in the software and hardware you work with. Knowing the technical side will never lessen as a desirable quality.

A new section of questions was added this year, to see what editors felt about different modules within the software:

- Basic Titles: 63 respondents like the basic title tool. 18 don’t. 15 are neutral or have no opinion. That seems to be a rather positive overall view.

- Color Correction: Not all versions of software have a color correction module. 28 respondents liked theirs. 33 didn’t. 34 were neutral or didn’t have an opinion.

- Advanced Titles: 21 liked Marquee or Motion (or Live Type). 37 didn’t. 9 were neutral. 25 didn’t respond. The Advanced title tools are not well liked.

- ScriptSync: only Avid has this, and only the newer systems. 10 respondents liked it. 33 did not. 5 were neutral. ScriptSync seems to have a very long way to go to be broadly useful. Those who like it are, in general, passionate supporters. It is probable others don’t understand it well, or have not been able to usefully apply it to their own situation.

- Effects: 60 respondents liked the Effects module. Only 13 did not. Pretty favorable for Effects.

Other Software
Members reported using the following software in their workflow: Quickeys, X Keys, Photoshop, iTunes, Filemaker, Boris, Cinematize, Quicktime Pro, Toast, CuteFTP, Final Draft, ProTools, Elgato Turbo, After Effects, DVD Studio Pro, and Stage Tools.

In order of greatest mention, the following things caused the most frustration: system crashes, system speed, interface design, director / producer interference, and lack of knowledge of the editing tools. (Our lives would be soooo much easier without those pesky directors.)

Feature Improvements
There were a lot of suggestions for improvements in the editing systems. They include, in order of importance, simple mobility, macro ability, a more intuitive interface, and more / better audio tools. (It is surprising to see how many editors want to take their work home.)

New Technology
The ideas for integrating new technology include voice activation, touch screens, an easier help system, inexpensive media sharing, and transcriptions.

Is Anyone Listening?
Hopefully, the annual survey’s results will have some impact with those who make the tools that our editors use. Avid? Apple? Adobe? (Is anyone still making) Lightworks? Will they simply keep adding features, or will they make the editor’s world more creative, convenient, and friendly.

One feature an editor mentioned was to be able to update title text in an easy way other than opening and changing each title. On a subtitled movie, this would be a great help. Will any edit system add this function?

With any luck, editors will start having more say in the tools they use, just as other production crewmembers now have. DP’s always have a big say in the camera and light equipment to be used because the perception is that they need it to achieve the “look” they have been chosen for. But several times I have been forced to use an editing system I would not have otherwise chosen. An editor is chosen for the same creative reason to do a project and likewise he or she should be able to choose the equipment that best services his or her creative needs.

By Harry B. Miller III, ACE Members Tech Web Discussion

MTBS Stereoscopic 3D Hardware Guide RC1

An interesting article by Neil Schneider.

The Fat Lady Sings in 3-D

Comin' at ya in 3D: James Cameron's Avatar, DreamWorks' animated Monsters vs. Aliens -- and opera singers and ballet dancers. European exhibs who attended last week's Cinema Expo in Amsterdam were dazzled to meet Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Hugh Jackman and Keanu Reeves and to see such hot pics as The Dark Knight and Tropic Thunder. But exhibs were also excited by the prospect of 16 cultural films, many in 3D, that could fill their usually half-empty cinemas during weekend matinees and early weekday evenings.

London-based digital cinema company Arts Alliance Media, headed by Howard Kiedaisch, was tubthumping for its slate of live and pre-recorded 2D and 3D opera and ballet works from London's Royal Opera House and Royal Albert Hall, Madrid's Teatro Real, Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu and the San Francisco Ballet.

The slate of 16 perfs, including six live events, kicks off in September with Mozart's Don Giovanni from the Royal Opera House and closes June 2009 with Verdi's La Traviata.

"It is not so easy for the opera lover living in somewhere like England's Lake District to get to the opera in Madrid. This is the next best -- no, sometimes even better -- thing to attending live opera," said Dutchman Hans Petri, m.d. of Opus Arte, the Royal Opera House's production and distribution company, which partnered with AAM on the project.

Expo conversations were dominated by talk of the need for digital cinema to pick up pace in Europe so that the 3D revolution can take hold. Most Hollywood execs including Jeffrey Katzenberg, Fox's Tomas Jegeus and Paramount's Andrew Cripps all hyped the paradigm-shifting potential of the new wave of 3D cinema.

By Archie Thomas, Variety

USC Lab Creates 3-D Volumetric Display

In an impressive mix of visual sciences and sci-fi, the ICT Graphics Lab at USC has created a low-cost volumetric 3-D display that brings every kid's hologram dreams closer to reality. The process is not simple but can be defined through a few key concepts: spinning mirrors, high-speed DLP Projections, and very precise math that figures out the correct axial perspective needed for a 360-degree image (even taking into account a viewer's positioning.)

USC ICT Graphics Lab's Volumetric Display

Different companies have been trying to create a viable 3-D technology for years, but have found several barriers in their way: small viewing areas, high costs and the viewer disconnect with blurry optical illusions. The most recent attempts have included Helio Display that recreate 2-D projections into floating 3-D illusions, as well as Jeff Han’s Holodust, which involves infrared lasers 'lighting up' particles in space.

But the USC project is different and way more realistic. When projecting video frames into a rapidly spinning mirror, close to 5,000 individual images are reflected every second within the surface area and come together to create a real-space three-dimensional object. Because the images projected from the mirror jump out "toward multiple viewpoints in space," the USC team created a formula that renders individual projections at different heights and traces each projected beam back to the display area to find the correct position of the viewer.

Click to watch the video

The system also updates itself in real time (at 200Hz), adjusting to the height and distance of the viewer, producing an image that will "stay in place," (or rather, that "adjusts its projected perspective.") In this way, every person in a room will be able to have a correct POV of a holographic image, like that of the TIE fighters in the image above. It also allows for the correct image occlusion as well as the appropriate image shading necessary for each item. More importantly, it enables simultaneous viewing -- no one will need to use dorky, uncomfortable glasses to see them battle in mid air.

By Jose Fermoso, Wired

Dolby Secures Global 3-D Deals

Dolby Labs has landed commitments for its 3-D systems on more than 350 screens in Europe, Asia and the Americas. It expects most of those screens to be ready when Warner's Journey to the Center of the Earth -- aka Journey 3-D -- and Belgian 3-D toon "Fly Me to the Moon" bow later this summer.

Dolby still trails far behind market leader Real D in installed screens and future commitments, but it is preferred by some exhibs, especially in Europe, because it does not require theaters to install an expensive silver screen in each 3-D auditorium, as the Real D system does. Unlike Real D, which collects a royalty on 3-D ticket sales, Dolby sells its system outright, often to aggregators who install digital projection systems in theaters. As a result, Dolby cannot track exactly where its systems have been installed.

In another announcement made in conjunction with the Cinema Expo confab in Amsterdam, Dolby also unveiled a licensing program for d-cinema server manufacturers to support Dolby 3-D Digital Cinema playback. Manufacturer XDC has already signed on for the program, which aims to let exhibitors put Dolby 3-D on their existing servers.

By David S. Cohen, Variety

A Step Towards the Classification of 3-D Displays

A recent article in a prestigious journal has inspired this blog. In it was included a foldout chart classifying stereoscopic moving image systems. The chart was obscure and confusing. I prefer to have people understand stereoscopic imaging, and the chart is of no help. It isn’t as if the classification of stereoscopic imaging systems is at the same level of complexity as that of the Periodic Table. But classifying a technology family, a system created by the human mind, can also be a challenging.

I divide the field into two parts: projection systems and other displays such as flat panels. There are only three ways that a plano-stereoscopic image (a two-view system) can be selected. You can select the image based on color (or wavelength), time, and polarization. One interesting thing about this is that the time selection technique can work with the other two. In fact, for the present generation of stereoscopic projection systems using the Texas Instruments DMD engine, time is combined with the other two methods to provide a shuttering system; so you can’t classify any of the present projection systems under one category, except for shuttering eyewear that use time for selection.

You can have a train of left-right images, variously described as field-sequential or time-multiplexed, in which shuttering eyewear like CrystalEyes are used. XpanD eyewear are used in some theatrical installations and their eyewear shutters open and close in synchrony with the video field rate and, by a well-known principle, when the left image is on the screen the left eye is seeing an image (and the right is blocked), and vice versa. Provided that the repetition rate is high enough, you see left images with the left eye, right images with the right eye, and a good-quality stereoscopic image (if everything else is done correctly) results. This is time-division multiplexing or temporal multiplexing, and it uses a shutter. There are two other systems that I alluded to. One uses color and the other uses polarization. As noted, both are combined with the temporal multiplexing or shuttering approach for projection.

Color selection has been called the “anaglyph,” and I am not going to depart from that terminology. Generally anaglyphs use broad filtering for two halves of the visual spectrum–one towards the reddish end and one towards the blue end. Such a technique can use two projectors, or the images can be combined on a single file or print and projected using a single projector.

The Dolby system is the modern version of the anaglyph, and they license the technology from INFITEC GmbH. It is a wavelength selection system but it uses very narrow spikes of filtration at three parts of the visual spectrum which are at different locations for the left and right eye. In this way you can get good color images, unlike the traditional anaglyph (which I find to be an abomination for 3-D projection). Dolby uses a spinning filter incorporated into the projector so that the output is a sequence of field-sequential color-encoded images. When combined with proper selection device eyewear, the left eye sees only the left train of images and the right eye sees the right train of images. One advantage is that you don’t need shuttering glasses, which are electronically driven devices that presumably would be more costly than passive devices that employ filtration. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with regard to the Dolby system in which the selection devices’ lenses, using retarder stacks, cost about as much as the shuttering eyewear.

The next system I’ll describe uses polarization. There are two kinds of polarization: linear and circular. Circular polarization is outputted by my invention, the ZScreen. The ZScreen, when combined with the single DMD projector, produces a selection technique that can be classified as both polarization-selection and temporal-selection. When you’re designing a system like this you have to pay attention to both the polarization and shuttering aspects of the design. That means you need a polarization-conserving screen, which both the Dolby and the XpanD shuttering system don’t require. The ZScreen alternates the characteristic of polarized light at the frame rate to produce alternate trains of left and right images with polarization encoding. When you put on polarizing glasses using this system you’re actually looking through a shutter and the parts of the shutter are distributed among the eyewear, the screen, and the ZScreen. You can say the same thing about the Dolby system. The Dolby system is a shuttering system as well as a color-selection system, with the parts of the shutter distributed among the eyewear, the screen, and the spinning color wheel incorporated in the projector.

For polarization, what has been done since the late ‘30s (and perhaps even earlier) is to put polarizing filters over the left and right projectors. You need a polarization-conserving screen and everybody wears 3-D glasses with polarization filters which could be circular or linear.

For projection systems the wavelength and polarization techniques are combined with the temporal technique for a single-display-device projector (in other words, a single projector coming out of a single optical path). For flat panels or electronic displays of any type we can do the same thing, and we can also use a dot- or line-sequential (spatial) approach. If you have a single display, somehow or other on the surface of the screen, either in time or in space, you need to share the image. This sharing is then combined with the other selection techniques by a means that is analogous to what has been described with regard to single projector systems.

Let’s take the case of a liquid crystal display, because that is the dominant display and will be the dominant display for years to come. If you could make liquid crystal displays run fast enough, you could view the display stereoscopically using shuttering eyewear, for example. The only viable means art this time is line-sequential selection combined with microscopic polarizer. The dominant player in this field is Arisawa Corporation, and they manufacture a micro-retarding device that is applied to the surface of a liquid crystal display. Because the display already uses a linear polarizer for image formation the combination produces areas of left and right handed circularly polarized light. This produces a line-sequential display that alternates, in the case of their embodiment, left- and right-handed circular polarization states in horizontal lines.

The CRT display is history for the most part but for years it dominated desktop stereo displays using the field-sequential technique. Flat panel displays can, without equivocation, locate each pixel, but you can’t do that with a CRT. However, CRTs are fast enough to use either shuttering eyewear or a polarization modulator placed in front of the screen. CRTs have been supplanted almost entirely by liquid crystal displays. That’s too bad, because they work very well for stereoscopic desktop applications for scientific imaging and visualization.

The other type of display that has characteristics similar to a CRT display is the rear-projection television (RPTV) sets made by a number of companies who license the technology from Texas Instruments. To get a high resolution of 1920 pixels, and because of the physics of the DMD engine, they use the diagonal interlace technique, also called the checkerboard technique. Because of the rapid refresh capability of the DMD they are able to use a time-sequential technique, so shuttering eyewear can be used with these kinds of monitors and produce an excellent image (albeit half resolution in each eye).

After I completed this blog article I hit upon the classification system I will present in the next blog (how I hate the sound of that word) article.

Source: Lenny Lipton

Execs Uneasy as Europe's D-Cinema Lags

Studio anxiety over the slow pace of Europe's conversion to digital cinema was apparent Thursday at a closing-day seminar at Cinema Expo.

"If we're not operating in an all-digital environment in 10 years, we will have missed the boat," Warner Bros. international distribution president Veronika Kwan-Rubinek said.

Universal's London-based executive vp international distribution Duncan Clark said the installation of digital projectors in 80% or so of the region's cinemas might be a more realistic goal. "There's a critical mass that needs to be reached," Clark said.

But other participants in the panel discussion -- dubbed "The Industry Speaks Out" and moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's U.K. bureau chief Stuart Kemp -- noted costs of distributing prints and digital copies of movies represents a double whammy for studios. That's because the majors have agreed to continue to pay "virtual print fees" for years to come to fund the installation of digital systems in the U.S. and Europe.

"Not in my lifetime," Disney international distribution president Anthony Marcoly responded after being asked by Kemp when theatrical distribution might go all-digital.

"How long are you going to live?" Paramount's international boss Andrew Cripps demanded with mock severity.

Yet despite obstacles from the industry's slow conversion to digital, panelists agreed the international theatrical market should continue to grow. Business in China will be hampered by piracy and politics and India by a market bias for Bollywood product, but Russia has room to grow, Kwan-Rubinek said.

Fox international distribution co-topper Tomas Jegeus said other territories in the former Soviet Union also are growth targets. "We've just opened our own operation in Siberia, which isn't the first market to come to mind," he noted.

"The Middle East is a fantastic spot," Sony international distribution president Mark Zucker said. "Screen averages there are just enormous."

Marcoly cited "room for additional growth and multiplex-building in Italy and the U.K."

And all the panelists agreed recent studio investments in indigenous production worldwide should help to spur more moviegoing. "We're probably the last to get involved in local production, but hopefully we'll just be the best," Jegeus said.

That drew a round of good-natured jibes from the other panelists, but the Fox exec insisted with a grin, "That's our business strategy."

The studio execs also agreed that 3-D movies could help revitalize theatrical business domestically and abroad. But as Marcoly pointed out, "The problem is, you can't have 3-D without digital."CGR Cinema's Jocelyn Bouyssy accepted the exhibitor of the year award, and Paramount Pictures International's Roger Pollock picked up distributor of year laurels.

And lest the week slip by without a major new factoid about the much-discussed perils of movie piracy, Cripps offered a cautionary tale about the recent worldwide bow of Paramount's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Within days of the summer tentpole's release, an illegal copy of the pic was recorded by camcorder in a French theater, translated into six languages and distributed over the Internet, Cripps said.

By Carl DiOrio, The Hollywood Reporter

DDD Group Says Samsung Completes Development Stage for Embedded 3-D HDTV Chip

DDD Group plc, the 3D software and content company, today announces that Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. has completed the prototype development phase for the integration of DDD's TriDef 3-D functions into a low cost 3-D chip for Samsung's next generation 3-D HDTVs.

The agreement was announced in February this year and involved DDD and Samsung collaborating to implement DDD's TriDef real-time 2-D to 3-D conversion and 3-D image processing architecture. The development fee of approximately £107,000 has been received based on the successful achievement of all the technical milestones for the prototype chip that was completed as expected within the first half of 2008.

Following completion of the prototype development phase, market research is now underway with consumers and Hollywood studios prior to commencing the next phase of the project.

Chris Yewdall, Chief Executive of DDD said: 'We are pleased to report that the development phase of this project is now complete with Samsung's engineers having successfully implementing our TriDef 2-D to 3-D conversion in their prototype 3-D HDTVs. Interest in the emerging 3-D TV market continues to grow and we remain squarely focused on building upon our lead and securing further development and licensing agreements in the TV market.'

Source: Hemscott

Tweak Software Launches RV, a Playback Software for Images and Film Sequences

Tweak Software has released RV, the company’s first commercially available software package. RV is a highly customizable cross-platform image and sequence viewer that is capable of playing-back uncompressed film resolution clips.

RV is a real-time, film resolution, high-dynamic-range image and sequence viewer for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The application can play back uncompressed film resolution sequences, and includes native support for stereo 3D. RV combines a flexible architecture and a hardware accelerated compositing pipeline with a lean, polished design tailored to professional digital artists.

Key Features of RV:
- Real-time playback for desktop, dailies and projection.
- Customizable, extensible architecture.
- Real-time hardware color correction.
- High dynamic range, floating point image pipeline.
- Advanced color management with support for OpenExr style linear-light scene-referred workflow.
- Native stereoscopic 3D support.
- RVIO, a stand alone batch image-processing tool to convert, conform, slate, color correct and composite image sequences.
- Comparison, tiling, compositing and playback of any number of sources.
- Multi-channel audio with real-time floating point re-sampling.
- Open source session file format (with Python/C++ tools).

RV is coming to market in a release version 3.4, having undergone multiple generations of development for internal use at Tweak Films. To date, RV has benefited Tweak’s projects as well as projects for a select group of major effects facilities, including WETA Digital, which adopted a pre-release version in 2006.

RV costs US$299 per node-locked license and $369 per floating license.

Source: DigitalArts

eMotion Engines

eMotion Engines is a new, creative force that has the passion, drive and unlimited experience in delivering high-performance application software for transforming moving images. The motion estimation technology, which is the inspiration behind the company, is based on Algorithms developed by Academy Award winner, Dr Anil Kokaram, a world renowned expert in this field.

eSuite includes:
- DigiCrank facilitates a highly creative process that allows content shot by digital cameras at 24fps to be cranked to any speed necessary for the slo mo requirement. Special effects, location shots or close ups in commercials can all now be shot at normal speed and re cranked maintaining the maximum resolution color depth and therefore quality.

The ability to digitally re crank digital images will bring high-speed cinematography back to the set and away from the slo motion process of Film. This revolutionary process will satisfy the insatiable desire of the director, allowing him to view content just shot and re cranked on a digital display, thereby slashing production time and costs.

- Pure is a high-quality restoration engine that uses motion compensated technology applied to resolution independent (4K/2K/HD/SD) DPX files to deliver a comprehensive range of restoration options. These include noise reduction, de-flicker, stabilize, de-blotch and scratch concealment. Pure excels in the traditional post production and volume restoration environments, such as National Film Archives, providing an automotive, cost-effective restoration product.

- Transformer is a file-based standards converter for DPX files. Transformer provides the highest picture quality using eMotion Engines’ finely tuned motion estimation technology at any resolution up to and including 2K. Transformer, which incorporates aspect ratio conversion technology, satisfies the two themes for standards conversion within a post environment: a high quality master and the ability to create multiple deliveries.

- ePlayer (coming very soon) is a cost-effective review and playback tool for VFX houses and restoration. The ePlayer application allows facilities to review DPX files in a collaborative environment directly from the desktop. ePlayer delivers a resolution independent, RAM based visualisation at any resolution up to 4K with the ability to simultaneously play two shots side-by-side for comparison.

Source: BroadcastBuyer

Sony Unveils New 4K Projector

The trade show floor at Cinema Expo 2008 is filled with the customary popcorn, theater-seat and tech vendors, but Sony Electronics reps are steering prospective customers to a secret demo suite to view something potentially much more watershed. Sony has unveiled a 4K digital projector with easy adaptability to 3-D projection. Previously, two of the pricey projectors were necessary to rig an auditorium for 4K 3-D, preventing the wide use of the high-resolution systems for 3-D exhibition.

Once considered the next-generation technology for digital cinema, Sony's 4K systems have been struggling to overcome cost and manufacturing woes, and more conventional 2K d-cinema systems have remained the prevalent hardware in the marketplace. So Sony executives -- hoping soon to remedy the additional 3-D headache -- are demonstrating prototypes of the new 4K projectors with the aim of bringing the hardware to market by Christmas.

"It's from the customer that you get the best feedback," said Tore Mortensen, a Sony business manager now working with theater operators in Norway to test 3-D 4K projectors in four multiplexes.

Elsewhere at the confab Wednesday, Arts Alliance Media announced a 3-D addition to its alternative-programming offerings for d-cinema. Arts Alliance will feature a first-ever 3-D opera presentation when it adds a Royal Opera House production of Hansel and Gretel to its programming lineup next year. Plans call for up to a half-dozen Royal Opera performances to be offered to patrons at cinemas throughout Europe and Australia.

Warner Bros. showed a brief montage of clips from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a sixth installment in the $4.48 billion franchise that's set for a holidays release. Warners international distribution president Veronika Kwan-Rubinek told exhibitors that Prince would be distributed in "digital, 35mm and Imax, with select scenes in 3-D."

With five 3-D movies in various stages of production, Disney execs also touted extra-dimensional 2009 releases including Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol. Disney international distribution topper Anthony Marcoly said next summer's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time -- one of three titles involving uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer -- is expected to launch the studio's next major film franchise.

By Carl DiOrio, The Hollywood Reporter

Mitsubishi Launches Laser-based DLP HDTVs

At a posh SoHo loft in New York City, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc. formally announced today additional details surrounding the performance and functionality of its new LaserVue TV, which is based on Texas Instruments’ DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology. As the first-ever laser-powered television, LaserVue hopes to deliver a range of color seemingly never before seen in home entertainment, which Mitsubishi is calling “a true dimension experience.” Mitsubishi sums up their laser-based television technology by saying that “Believing is Seeing.”

According to Mitsubishi, today’s HDTVs display less than 40-percent of the color spectrum that the eye can see. Supposedly, laser-based illumination produces twice the color of conventional displays. Laser beam illumination also provides a wide range of rich, complex colors, along with an enhanced clarity and depth of field not provided by other display technologies.

Mitsubishi LaserVue TV

Using TI’s DLP projection technology as a base, LaserVue features laser technology as the next-generation of its illumination light source in rear projection DLP HDTVs. While Mitsubishi indicated that LED illumination (as used by Luminus Devices’ PhlatLight technology) is a good choice for new illumination schemes in DLP rear projection TVs, Mitsubishi believes that laser is clearly superior, and “one step beyond” LED. Like PhlatLight illumination, laser illumination also eliminates the color wheel and lamp found on other DLP projectors. Lamp-less DLP projection in either front or rear applications is the current direction that this display technology is now headed. And, by eliminating the color wheel and its expensive replaceable lamp, the depth of the television is also reduced.

Mitsubishi indicated that laser beams provide the widest range of rich, complex colors, along with the most clarity and depth of field. Precise and focused, the purity of laser light reportedly far surpasses current high definition technologies. The color gamut as a percentage of BT.709 (a standard for color measurement in televisions) for LaserVue prototypes has been measured at approximately 200-percent, delivering over twice the color of many of today’s HDTVs. Brightness has been rated at about 500 nits (nits = a measure of brightness that relates to televisions). Additional features found on all LaserVue televisions include Smooth 120 Hz refresh rate that helps with motion lag and judder, and x.v. Color for an improved color palette.

LaserVue will be available in 65-in. and 73-in. screen sizes. Mitsubishi hopes that LaserVue will raise the bar for large screen television (those models over 60-in.) by delivering twice the color at half the power of today’s current LCD and plasma HDTVs.

Like other new DLP rear projection television’s, Mitsubishi LaserVue TVs not only provides excellent picture quality, they are also capable of delivering a new and somewhat unique 3D viewing experience. As well, the new LaserVue TVs are environmentally friendly by operating power targeted at fewer than 200 watts. These televisions will use approximately one-half the power of today’s LCD TVs, and one-third of plasma TVs. At a depth of approximately 10 inches, LaserVue TV has been designed for both floor stand and wall-mount applications.

At Mitsubishi’s line show last April, the company had a “shoot-out” demonstration between a Pioneer Elite 1080p 50-in. plasma HDTV and a Sharp Aquos 65-in 1080p LCD HDTV. The image quality of the Mitsubishi LaserVue looked impressive to this reviewer as compared to the other displays. The colors were deep and rich with amazing reds and blacks as compared to competitive plasma and LCD 1080p panels. Contrast and clarity were among the best that this reviewer has seen in a long, long time. Mitsubishi indicated that several TV manufacturers have attempted to bring laser TV to market, and have failed.

The 65-in. model (L65A90), which is part of Mitsubishi’s Diamond line, will begin shipping to authorized retailers in the third quarter of this year. The 73-in. model (L73A90), which is also part of their Diamond line, will follow to Mitsubishi retailers later in the year. Pricing will be set closer to launch in the Fall.

by Dennis P. Barker, Electronic House

ESPN Scores with Euro 2008

One very exciting technology introduced by ESPN during the Euro 2008 has been the innovative ESPN Axis. The 3D-image enhancement system allows the studio team to review 'virtual' plays at half-time, or in post game analysis from a multitude of camera angles with the ability to highlight and move players in a video-game like fashion to illustrate 'what if' scenario's.

The technology was developed by a Swiss company, LiberoVision and has really been a great addition to the panel discussions especially in reviewing offside cases. If only the referees in the match had the same option, we would certainly avoid a lot of missed calls and a great deal of antics and controversy.

By Mark Selfe, RedHerring

6-D Photography

Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor in "camera culture," is currently working on what he calls "6-D photography" that would go beyond current 3-D films and even holographic images. The difference between a 3-D image and a hologram is that one can move around the latter image on a horizontal plane and see it from different angles. What 6-D would do is create the full illusion of the actual object by having it reflect light from outside the image. For example, a director could use a 6-D image on the set and actually light it the way he would light any real person or object physically present.

Raskar, who will be offering a demonstration of the technology at Siggraph in August, cautions that 6-D won't be in use anytime soon. The current cost for such an image is $30 a pixel, so a single frame of a widescreen image would cost in the neighborhood of $30 million. "Clearly, this is cutting edge," said Raskar, who said it will be some time before a director like Steven Spielberg will have this technology available for one of his films.

Source: Variety

The Future of Display - Stereoscopic 3D "The world is Not Flat"

Korea's research on 3D image-based technologies was initiated with the participation of such a state-owned research institute as the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in 2002. Leading companies in the private sector are KDC Corp. and masterImage. Founded in 1972, this year marks the 36th anniversary of its establishment as Korea's leading IT company. KDC has four subsidiaries, listed on Kosdaq in 1996. The overall sales of the KDC Corp, an IT enterprise of middle standing, amounted to more than $1.1 hundred million, employing a staff of 800 people. KDC has decided to put priority on the next-generation display business as a new growth engine in 2004, and has joined forces to make inroads to the display market in close collaboration with masterImage, a professional 3D enterprise. Launched with the participation of influential engineers in the 3D sector, masterImage has secured core technology with regard to stereoscopic 3D images.

Currently, KDC Corp. is the biggest shareholder of masterImage. KDC and masterImage joined hands to lay a firm foundation in the following fields: product development, production, and sales, with a view to maxi mizing synergy effects. The two companies KDC and masterImage succeeded in developing 3D-LCD method of realizing the autostereoscopic 3D image used in mobile phones since 2004, and developing a stereoscopic 3D digital theater system for the second time in the world, which shook the world's film industry. In the meantime, Real D, which was the first American developer of the 3D digital theater system, monopolized the global market.

The stereoscopic 3D digital theater system co-developed by KDC and masterImage has been already offered to the following Asian countries - Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines and Korea. Recently, it has been also installed in the Cinemark cinema in Oregon. In addition, the system enabled customers to enjoy the following films - The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D; Meet the Robinsons 3D; Beowulf 3D; and Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert 3D. Some of them are still showing. Additionally, KDC and masterImage signed a partnership deal with Kinoton, a leading provider of digital cinema equipment and services in Europe, greatly contributing to making inroads into the European market in the near future. KDC and masterImage are also negotiating terms and conditions with cinema business people in more than 20 countries, such as China, India, Thailand, and Malaysia. The conformity of the product has largely improved, based on the use of single projectors, and a single circular polarized rotary filter. The product makes it possible to present stereographic 3D images comfortably. In fact, this technology has many advantages over other products, in terms of an excellent level of brightness. It is easy to install, and can be provided at a relatively reasonable price compared to other products.

MasterImage/KDC MI-2100

Recently, both companies have released new Full HD beam splitter cameras for cinema production to be used in the film and broadcasting sectors for the first time in Korea. In the meantime, the previous stereoscopic 3D digital cameras had to be arranged horizontally, which means that two cameras were installed parallel with each other. Therefore, the digital theater cameras previously used in the broadcasting and film industries could not adjust the distance between two cameras freely, the cameras presented images in qualities below the professional level, such as for people making short films or for domestic use. However, the Full HD beam splitter camera for cinema production developed by the two companies this time was designed based on the beam splitter method, vertically for one camera and horizontally for the other. Thus, digital theater cameras which are designed for broadcasting and film-making are available. In addition, close-shot and artificial control of three-dimensional effects can enable the free realization of 3D images, which will eradicate the root cause of dizziness. Stereoscopic 3D monitors are arranged in one system, which will enable people to check the dimensional images in realtime while photographing.

MasterImage/KDC Full HD beam splitter camera rig

The company released a 3D kiosk product, which can enable people to enjoy high-definition stereoscopic 3D images by installing camera lobbies, shopping malls, and amusement parks. The product will present movie trailers of 3D films in advance, after being installed in a cinema's box office. Equipped with a coin and bill payment function, it is also expected to raise additional revenue.

MasterImage/KDC 3D kiosk

Source: Korea IT Times

Sony Introduces its Flagship 35mm-based CineAlta Camera to Enhance Film-style Operation

Sony is debuting in Asia its revolutionary new F35 digital cinematography camera system, which offers cinematographers a rich array of functionality, including a 35mm CCD image sensor, 10-bit full band-width RGB 4:4:4 recording and a PL mount. This sophisticated new camera joins the F23 model as part of Sony’s high-end CineAlta line of products for motion picture content creation and high-end Digital Cinematography.

Sony F35

Like the F23, the F35 offers cinematographers exceptional ease-of-use and a convenient ergonomic design. The camera uses the same docking system for hassle-free integration with the SRW-1 HDCAM SR recorder, eliminating the need for cumbersome cable-handling between the camera and recorder. The camera body is also compatible with a variety of accessories without modification, including bridge plates, matte boxes and follow focus units, which brings convenience to film users.

Dynamic functionality for today’s production needs
The heart of the F35 is a new Super 35mm-sized CCD sensor that offers full resolution of 1920 x 1080 at a picture rate of up to 50 fps. In response to user feedback, the F35 also offers an extended dynamic range of 800%, and an improved signal-to-noise ratio that gives “quieter” blacks even during dark scenes. Likewise, the wide latitude of the pre-set S-log Gamma maintains the tonal gradation of night sky scenes, and enables users to retain the detail in sunlit areas and shadows. The CCD sensor’s breathtaking picture quality is further complemented with an extremely flexible depth-of-field control, as well as full-bandwidth 4:4:4 digital RGB output.

To expand the creative possibilities of the F35, the camera features a PL lens mount. This makes it compatible with a wide range of motion-picture optics and speciality lenses such as fish eye, swing shift and baby periscope. It’s even possible to use the F35 in combination with the F23, which opens up exciting new possibilities for creativity, particularly by taking advantage of the F23’s ability in 3D, low-light, and 60fps shooting.

The F35 camera will be available in September 2008, with suggested list pricing to be announced.

Source: Digital Cinema Buyers Guide

Digital Cinema Production Gains Valuable New Technology

BroadcastAsia 2008 saw the launch of yet more Sony products with the unveiling of the new HKSR-5804 file transfer option board. Designed to accompany the HDCAM SR SRW-5800 deck, the new HKSR-5804 file transfer option board will dramatically enhance workflow in digital cinema production. To complement this important new launch, Sony also introduced an affordable companion player deck, the SRW-5100 at the event.

Sony HKSR-5804

To enrich digital cinema production with highly advanced network capabilities, the optional HKSR-5804 board introduces a new network-based workflow to the DI (Digital Intermediate) domain, thus achieving significantly higher levels of efficiency. By using the new board and SRW-5800 deck, users can now enjoy a wide variety of powerful functions, such as DPX file conversion to and from the HDCAM-SR HD video format, as well as 2K (2048 x 1556)/4K (4096 x 3112) uncompressed data recording. Giga-bit Ethernet is also supported, allowing the rapid transfer of even large files. Moreover, because all major operating systems are supported – including Microsoft Windows, Linux and Macintosh – users can gain full control with just a standard Internet browser.

SRW-5100: The ideal companion for studio operations
The newest addition to the HDCAM SR family is the SRW-5100 model. It has 880Mbps “playback-only” capability, which includes 4:2:2 1080 50P/60P, 4:4:4 1080 HQ and Dual-Stream modes. With 2x high-speed feed is also supported, the new deck is ideal for on-set dubbing, screening, ingesting, or outputting HDV content for off-line applications. Playback compatibility with the HDCAM and Digital Betacam formats is also available through option boards.

Cutting-edge tape technology
Sony’s full line of BCT-SR Series HDCAM SR digital videocassettes is designed to fully maximize the benefits of 4:4:4 RGB recording technology. Using Sony’s most advanced metal tape technology, these digital videocassettes enable the faithful capture and reproduction of HD image quality. HDCAM SR recording media uses ultrafine high performance metal particles 50 percent smaller than those in Sony’s HDCAM tape. Applied in a micro-thin magnetic coating, these particles enable wavelength recordings to 0.29mm, with up to +7dB higher output than traditional HDCAM tape.

The HKSR-5804 option board will be available in October 2008, while the SRW-5100 deck will be available early next year at a suggested list price to be determined.

Source: Digital Cinema Buyers Guide

Barco Demonstrates All of Today’s Digital Cinema Potential at Cinema Expo

This year’s Cinema Expo features the world premiere of the DP-1200, Barco’s newest digital cinema projector, custom made for the small venue market. Built on the renowned technology of the Barco DP family, the DP-1200 is designed for screens up to 12m (40ft) wide and is ideal for applications that could not find a place for digital cinema before. Thanks to the DP-1200 even the smallest cinemas now have access to digital cinema, at an affordable price.

Using the same 0.98 inch DLP Cinema chip from Texas Instruments, the DP-1200 builds further on the success of the DP1500 and DP2000 platform. Barco paid particular attention to further optimizing the operating cost, by making low wattage 2kW and 1.2kW lamps available for use in the DP1200. In addition, the DP-1200 incorporates all the traditional Barco benefits such as a modular design, a motorized single lens solution, optimal protection of the optics and a low ventilation requirement. The communicator software and SNMP agent provides the customer with an easy key to operate their digital cinema projector.

At Cinema Expo, Barco introduces an integrated solution based on Dolby’s spectral modulation of light. The DP1500 and DP2000 projectors can be provided with a factory-built-in Dolby 3D solution. Barco’s DP 2000 3D solution is an integrated solution, meaning that the filter controller - an external box in the standard Dolby solution – is no longer required. With a 96mm wheel for DP1500 and DP2000 and a 125mm wheel for DP3000, the digital cinema projectors offer sublime 3D reproduction on screen. The single projector set-up can play all movies using the Dolby technology and can handle screens up to approximately 12m.

Barco’s 3D solutions are compatible with all 3D technologies available in the market today. To further develop and improve 3D solutions for the future, Barco works closely together with: REAL-D, Dolby, MasterImage and ExpanD.

In Amsterdam, Barco also presents the company’s new DualPolar 3D solution, based on the polarization of light. This technology, as used by Real D, requires the cinema’s to have a silver screen. The DualPolar 3D can be used for screens up to 20m and consists of an easy to mount framework to stack the DP2000 and DP1500. Barco’s DualPolar 3D solution is the easiest and cheapest stacking solution in the industry.

Source: DCinemaToday

XDC Signs Cooperation Agreement with Emerging Pictures for European Digital Distribution Services

XDC, the leading digital cinema service company in Europe, signs a cooperation agreement with Emerging Pictures, New York-based digital entertainment company, to provide, in selected European countries, digital mastering and distribution logistical services for La Scala opera titles.

The opera performances from La Scala, the legendary 229 year-old Opera house in Milan, as well as other opera titles distributed by Emerging Pictures, will now be digitally processed by the XDC Digital Content Lab in order to allow audiences in cinemas in Europe to enjoy the magic of opera. The initial agreement signed between XDC and Emerging Pictures is for the technology cinema services required for the distribution of content in digital file format to digital screens installed in Benelux, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Spain. Other territories should be added soon.

Source: DCinemaToday

3-D: Coming at You Soon in a Home Theater Near You

3-D is already becoming a hit in theaters. Now Hollywood, TV makers and technology firms are trying to bring the eye-popping visuals-with-depth into your living room. Recent 3-D versions of theatrical releases such as Meet the Robinsons and Beowulf have sold twice as many tickets or more for each showing as standard versions. So it's no surprise that studios have as many as 40 movies planned for viewing, either all or in part in 3-D. And more theaters are adding compatible projectors and screens.

Upcoming theatrical 3-D movies include Journey to the Center of the Earth, the first live-action film shot entirely in 3-D (July 11; can be viewed in 2-D, too). Disney's Pixar studio will begin making all its computer-animated films in 3-D starting with Bolt, which arrives in November. DreamWorks plans the same strategy starting with Monsters vs. Aliens, due next March. Also due in 2009: James Cameron's computer-generated Avatar. And Disney and Pixar are reworking the first two Toy Story films for 3-D, as is George Lucas and the Star Wars saga.

"There is a real significant push from the creative community," says Doug Darrow of Texas Instruments, which makes video chips for 3-D-capable digital projectors.

It costs studios more to make 3-D movies, so there's "a high level of enthusiasm" for 3-D movies that consumers also can watch at home on high-definition TVs, says Chris Chinnock of the recently formed 3D@Home Consortium. Home video accounts for three-fourths of Hollywood's $35.5 billion annual revenue, including $16 billion in DVD sales. "3-D is a nice driver in theaters," Chinnock says, but it needs "a path to the home."

On the agenda for the consortium, whose members include Disney, Universal, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Thomson and IMAX, are the various types of 3-D technologies and home-delivery methods. Old-school paper glasses used red and blue lenses to create a grainy three-dimensional image. Current experimentation focuses on home movies and games that can be viewed with sophisticated glasses (like those used in theaters) directing different images to the left and right eye. Live test broadcasts of sports events have already taken place. Also in development are 3-D displays that can be viewed without headgear at all.

3-D has the potential "to revitalize the industry," says Phil Swann of "Watching something in high-def makes you feel like you're there; watching something in 3-D HD makes you feel like you can reach out and touch what's there. Needless to say, this makes advertisers giddy as they contemplate viewers becoming more involved with the products they see on screen."

More signs that 3-D is headed for your home:
- 3-D HDTVs are a reality. By the end of the year, more than 1 million 3-D-ready HDTVs, primarily from Mitsubishi and Samsung, will be in U.S. homes. These sets can display standard HD video and be connected to 3-D sources. Mitsubishi's newest 3D-ready, 65-inch LaserVue set will come to market this summer, with a 73-inch model to follow (no prices set).

On Monday, Mitsubishi also announced a 3-D content deal with PC graphics-card maker Nvidia and media server company Aspen Media Products. The first offerings later this year will be computer games such as Electronic Arts' Madden NFL, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and FIFA Soccer. A competing 3-D package from DDD (Dynamic Digital Depth), the TriDef 3D Experience transforms into 3-D some PC games, such as BioShock, and movies (The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, which was in theaters in different 3-D form).

At last week's InfoComm AV trade show in Las Vegas, Philips announced several new 3-D displays, including a 52-inch LCD screen that does not require glasses for viewing. Also unveiled: the first home 3-D projector, from Norwegian firm Projectiondesign. Both are due later this year (no prices set).

- Home 3-D discs are coming. With all the new 3-D movies in the works, there will plenty of blockbuster content available for home treatment. Shown only in 3-D theaters earlier this year, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds 3-D Concert will be the first 3-D Blu-ray Disc when it's released Aug. 19. Both versions, the $36 Blu-ray Disc and $35 two-disc DVD, come with 3-D glasses. (You also can watch in normal 2-D). And the concert is longer, with additional songs not seen in the theatrical version.

- Ways to turn regular discs into 3-D are in the works. Technology company TDVision is pitching Hollywood studios with a way to make current Blu-ray Disc movies appear in 3-D. Watching in 3-D is like "the difference between watching a car chase on TV and actually being part of the car chase," says TDVision's Ethan Schur.

"There is going to be an evolution here, and it will take a little bit of time, but it is similar to the HDTV transition," says Mitsubishi's Frank DeMartin. "With HD, there was no content at all. Here we have quite a bit of content available. The next wave will be on the home-video front. The question is, how does it all happen?"

By Mike Snider, USA Today

Japan's KDDI Finds Way to Deliver Free Viewpoint Video over Web

KDDI R&D Laboratories has developed a system for delivering free viewpoint video over the Internet. The research arm of KDDI Corp. plans to use the system for a trial service on its Web site this year. Within fives years it hopes to integrate the system with the delivery of on-demand television programming over the Internet.

In free viewpoint video, the viewer can choose to watch events play out from any angle. This is accomplished by filming the action from multiple angles using multiple cameras and then synthesizing the image data to generate a digital 3-D view. The technology is actually being developed for free viewpoint television, but too much data is generated for delivery over the Internet.

The new KDDI system uses data-compression technologies and selective processing of image data to create a 300mbps data stream, which is small enough for delivery to household Internet terminals.

Source: TradingMarkets

Digital Dearth in Europe

The time warp that is digital cinema figured prominently Monday in opening-day seminars at Cinema Expo. In the U.S., the rollout of d-cinema systems in multiplexes nationwide is sufficiently progressed -- at almost 5,000 movie-quality screens -- that exhibitors already are eyeing the additional implementation of 3-D hardware. Pacific-Asian exhibition is even further around the digital bend, with an installed base of about 6,500 screens. Yet in Europe, which has fewer than 1,000 digital screens at present, d-cinema is largely a theoretical discussion.

Money woes and other impediments figured in a session billed as "D-cinema in Europe -- Stalled?" But a speaker recounted overhearing a telling comment in the hotel bar the night before. "Stalled?" a bemused conventioneer asked. "I didn't know it had started."

Of course, the d-cinema rollout is more progressed in some European markets, with the U.K., Belgium, France and Russia getting better traction than elsewhere. Installation outfits XDC and Arts Alliance Media have helped roll out systems for about 400 and 326 screens, respectively, keeping the region's digital pulse pumping if not racing. Exhibitors here appear relatively sanguine about the situation. That's partly because independent films represent a higher portion of the product mix, and indies haven't been keen to distribute films digitally as the major studios nor to help exhibs fund installations.

"In Europe, there will be no big bang for digital cinema," said Dutch Distributors Assn. director Michael Lambrechtsen, who seemed more upset over Holland's weekend soccer loss to Russia. "This is economically and physically impractical."

D-cinema proponents in the U.S. might say the technology's rollout there has hardly been a "big bang" event either. But the stateside use of "virtual print fees" as a means of securing studio funding for digital theater installations has gotten much quicker traction than in Europe, where the spreading sense is that exhibitors might have to carry a much greater portion of the financial burden themselves.

"Individual (circuits) will progress faster or slower depending on their economic strength," Lambrechtsen said.Inertia on d-cinema is so palpable on the continent that another speaker felt the need to remind people the digital trend is inevitable. "It's a clear imperative that the movie business is going in the digital direction," European Digital Cinema Forum chief Dave Monk said. "Not going there is just not a practical option."

A pantheon of top d-cinema vendors are on board at Cinema Expo to help show European exhibitors how it's all done. Such companies as Texas Instruments, Imax, Dolby and Christie Digital also are involved in several movie screenings set for digital presentation at the confab. Those include Paramount's Tropic Thunder, set for a screening Thursday night. Screenings set for later in the week include Sony's Pineapple Express, Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight and Disney's Wall-E, among others.

Meanwhile, one potentially helpful development in the d-cinema rollout emerged Monday, when Belgium-based installations facilitator XDC said it's signed up the final two majors to virtual print fee arrangements. The pacts with Sony and Universal follow similar XDC deals with Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount and Fox. XDC now must convince individual circuits throughout Europe to tap into VPFs, through which studios would help defray costs of exhibitors' d-cinema installations costs. But execs said the arrangements theoretically could cover up to 8,000 new digital installations throughout the region.

By Carl DiOrio and Leo Cendrowicz, The Hollywood Reporter

HaiVision's MAKO-HD Telepresence Codec Transmits First Live Stereoscopic 3D High Definition Surgical Procedure Using IP Video

HaiVision Systems announces that its MAKO-HD video encoder/decoder technology is being used to transmit live surgical stereoscopic 3D high definition 1080i video from Intuitive Surgical's daVinci S robotic surgical system. In this unique event, both traditional and robotic surgeries are being performed simultaneously within advanced Stryker equipped operating rooms at the hospital and are being broadcast live to the conference center for comparative purposes.

The conference center is 2 kilometers from where the surgeries are taking place. In order for attendees to fully experience the 3D technology employed by the surgical robot, the two high definition sources from the surgical robot (necessary for the 3D effect) are being transmitted over a high speed network using HaiVision's MAKO-HD codec technology. Attendees are viewing the 3D surgery using polarized glasses and Lightspeed Design DepthQ stereoscopic processing and systems integration technology.

The stereo high definition video that we are receiving at the conference center is stunning," states Gayle Burnett, Regional Director for Capital Health's Centre for the Advancement of Minimally Invasive Surgery. "Most important for the effort was to retain synchronization between the video streams so that the stereo effect is maintained. HaiVision's technology accomplishes this absolutely and with imperceptible latency."

HaiVision has a long history of enabling remote viewing of medical video, as HaiVision codecs were first used for the transmission of standard definition stereo video from the daVinci system for live telerobotic surgery demonstrations at the American Telemedicine Associate conference in 2005. HaiVision's newest codec, the MAKO-HD, is ideal for medical applications, supporting the highest resolution and the lowest latency (70 milliseconds) available with the latest H.264 video compression technology. HaiVision has as well introduced SHARE-HD, a network video recording system designed for medical applications capable of recording and replaying multiple synchronous high definition video streams.

The MAKO-HD is the high definition video encoder/decoder available within the hai1000 network video system and supports up to 1080p resolution. The hai1000 multi-stream system, integrated within the systems of HaiVision's OEM clients, is the world's leading codec for telepresence.

Source: eMediaWire

Cinema Chain Urges Digital Change at Cinema Expo

Steve Knibbs, COO of Vue Cinemas, has urged distributors to start making more digital trailers alongside their digital films. In December 2007, the UK cinema chain opened Europe's first all digital 10-screen multiplex in Hull and Knibbs told attendees at this year's Cinema Expo conference in Amsterdam of the benefits and teething problems of running an all-digital theatre. He said that since the multiplex's inception, 85% of films on offer were shown in digital but when it came to showing trailers, only 26% of them were available in digital format – 139 trailers still remained in the 35mm format while just 36 were digital.

"I know it's not high on the list of priorities for distributors," said Knibbs. "But we'll play them if you make them.

Other problems so far with the multiplex have included screen freezes and lamps not striking, effecting 18% of shows but less than 1% of overall admissions.

"It has been tough but I don't think we'd expected anything different," he told delegates.

Knibbs said that the "freshness" of digital quality would fade as people "normalize" and get used to the format, stressing that movies and content will always be the key thing that drives business.

Jocelyn Bouyssy, director general of CGR cinemas in France urged a more hasty transition to digital, saying it was necessary because of the increase in pirating from 18-24 year olds who are "learning to live with this medium".

Bouyssy said: "If it were up to me [all 35mm would move to digital] tomorrow morning. We have to take the profession into a revolution." He added that he hopes all films will be digital by 2009.

Knibbs quipped: "Keeping 35mm gives you a crutch. At some point you need to dive in the water and see how cold it is."

By Diana Lodderhose, ScreenDaily

Jeffrey Katzenberg Still on 3-D Stump

It's a well-traveled act by now, Jeffrey Katzenberg's promo push for 3-D exhibition. This time, the DreamWorks Animation topper took his extra-dimensional tubthumping to Cinema Expo, where he's also promoting two DWA titles.

"One year ago, I stood here and first spoke to you about 3-D," he recalled while gracefully omitting the scant progress Europe has made in its rollout of digital projection, let alone 3-D accouterments. "I think this is the single greatest opportunity in 70 years," Katzenberg said. "Not since the introduction of Technicolor 70 years ago has there been something so impactful to what we do."

Although the notion that many of the assembled exhibitors might be playing 3-D movies anytime soon was perhaps a bit fanciful, the DWA CEO's enthusiasm can be contagious. "We hear there are going to be like 10 to 12 movies released in 3-D in 2009," said Gerald Buckle, d-cinema manager for regional digital pioneer Odeon Cinemas. "That's quite an incentive for doing something."

There are fewer than 150 3-D screens sprinkled throughout Europe, compared with about 1,000 in the U.S. Hollywood executives dream of a day when they can release 3-D films on thousands of global screens, but for now studios must split their distribution efforts between conventional and 3-D prints. And the number of runs in the former category dwarfs those in the latter.

Katzenberg shared with the exhibs a well-received extended clip from Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which is set to unspool in December as DWA's last feature production animated in conventional CGI. He also showed footage from Easter 2009's Monsters vs. Aliens, whose 3-D animation represents the future for DWA.

By Carl DiOrio, The Hollywood Reporter

Mitsubishi Announces New Relationship with NVIDIA and Aspen Media to Demonstrate Complete 3D Solution for the Home

Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America announced a new relationship with NVIDIA Corporation and Aspen Media Products to provide the first complete 3D solution for the home entertainment market. For the first time ever, high-value 3D content will become available to the consumer at home in one convenient package.

"Mitsubishi, a leader in large screen HDTV, NVIDIA, a major force in the entertainment graphics market and Aspen Media Products, an innovator in media server technology, have each developed unique technologies that take us to the next level in realizing the dream of 3D home entertainment," said David Naranjo, director of product development, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America. By combining the strengths of these three market leading companies, 3D in the home is now ready to become an exciting reality." For years, NVIDIA's successful GeForce FX Go series of graphics processing units (GPUs) have delivered breakthrough 3D imagery primarily for the PC Gamer. Its GeForce 3D stereoscopic technology is a driver for Windows Vista, which renders two views for stereoscopic display systems to show depth with Microsoft DirectX games. The 3D stereoscopic driver is compatible with all GeForce 7 series and higher GPUs, which in turn are compatible with Mitsubishi's 3D-ready Home Theater TVs.

"The Aspen Media Server has delivered on-demand music, movies and other entertainment programming to the home since its introduction. Now with the increased production of 3D content such as movies, live events, concerts and sports, the Aspen Media server provides an ideal platform to deliver the latest in 3D entertainment technology to the consumer," said John Oliver, chief executive officer, Aspen Media Products. "We are excited to work with two great industry leaders, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America and NVIDIA, to bring this amazing new solution to consumers." Mitsubishi's entire product line of Home Theater TVs feature 3D-ready technology. The company continues to lead the competition with the largest Home Theater HDTV available at 73". This year's product line includes three new 73" models along with 60" and 65" sizes -- all featuring thinner frames, increased brightness and 3D-ready capability. Mitsubishi's 1080p Home Theater TVs provide unparalleled picture quality that far exceeds competitive displays, and deliver an optimal experience to enjoy the new generation of 3D home entertainment.

Source: CNBC

AmberFin Enriches iCR Solution to Support Evolving Customer Needs

AmberFin has launched it's newest upgrade to its iCR software, the open standards, future proof platform that digitizes and transforms new and archived content, across multiple delivery platforms. The latest version of AmberFin iCR incorporates enhanced compatibility features to support ever evolving customer needs, including support for the Sony XDCAM and Panasonic P2 DVCPRO SD/HD encoding standards as well as increased interoperability with Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid editing systems. This combats the interoperability and compatibility challenges faced by content owners today.

Sony XDCAM and Panasonic P2 DVCPRO SD/HD
By incorporating the latest Sony and Panasonic formats, iCR 3.5 eliminates the need for re-encoding and thus maintains quality while improving the speed of operations and reducing costs. Content owners can now seamlessly mix camera resolutions and formats, solving numerous compatibility issues between different types of production formats without tying up creative staff and equipment.

AmberFin iCR 3.5 also allows easy conversion between standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) formats, without the addition of extra equipment. As high definition becomes even more essential to deliver, from traditional TV to the internet, this ability to convert content from one format to another as well as between platforms is becoming increasingly critical.

AmberFin iCR can also be used to review and quality control any of those formats in real-time allowing detection of faults that are invisible to the human eye. With as much as 40% of ingested content needing to be re-encoded due to issues that could have been detected and fixed at the mastering and quality control stage, iCR brings significant improvements to a facility's throughput and time to market or air.

Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid editing support
AmberFin iCR 3.5 supports background ingest to generic centralized storage systems for both Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid, supporting both P2 DVCPRO and XDCAM SD/HD formats. iCR can also enable content capture of DVCPRO and XDCAM directly to the Apple Final Cut native QuickTime format, thus eliminating lengthy clip imports and saving time. The iCR system can also be fully controlled by automation or asset management systems, helping to industrialize the encoding process for production or archive ingest.

Source: BroadcastBuyer

Paramount, Walt Disney and Twentieth Century Fox to Support YMAGIS Pan European Digital Cinema Initiative

Ymagis, a Paris, France based company, established in 2007 by several cinema executives to help accelerate the transition of European theatres to digital projection, has reached non-exclusive agreements with Paramount Pictures International, Walt Disney Studios International and Twentieth Century Fox who have independently agreed to supply digital content to the projection systems deployed by Ymagis. Ymagis is in advanced negotiations with other US and European distributors and expects to announce other similar agreements shortly.

Ymagis intends to deploy up to 5,500 systems compliant with DCI specifications in several countries throughout continental Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland and Luxemburg. Ymagis’ ambition is to provide the European exhibition industry with technical and financial schemes that will help maintain its diversity and its dynamism.

Source: DCinemaToday

XDC Signs its First Large-Scale Deployment Agreement with Cineplexx

XDC, the leading digital cinema service company in Europe, announces to have signed an exclusive agreement with Cineplexx Kinobetriebe GmbH, the largest cinema chain in Austria, for the deployment of digital cinema systems in 100% of the circuit’s 193 screens. This agreement represents a contract of a total value of about 21 millions Euros.

The agreement signed between Cineplexx and XDC includes the roll out of DCI-compliant projection systems co-financed by the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) model. The rollout is scheduled to begin in the last quarter of 2008, with a target of 50% of each complex screens converted during the first contractual year.

Christian G. Langhammer, Cineplexx’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted to be the first exhibitor to go fully digital with the XDC’s VPF-based business model. We have been working with XDC for several years. They have financed, installed and serviced our first 16 digital screens. XDC has the best team to support exhibitors into their transition to digital, and I’m really excited to extend our cooperation with this major milestone, which will give to Cineplexx huge opportunities to benefit from all the advantages of digital cinema.” Christof Papousek, Cineplexx’s Chief Financial Officer added: “Besides offering pristine image quality to our audience, we will extend our programming to alternative content, 3D shows and live satellite events (opera, concerts, sports...). Last but not least, digital will allow us to reduce our operational costs.”

Under the terms of the agreement, XDC will exclusively install DCI-compliant digital projection systems: Christie 2K DLP Cinema projectors and XDC’s CineStore Solo G3 D-Cinema servers. XDC will also implement a fully integrated and networked solution in each complex, thanks to its advanced Theatre Management System and Central Library, the XDC’s CineStore Plaza.

Film Ton Technik (FTT), via its Austrian subsidiary FTT Digital Cinema GmbH, will carry out the installations and the maintenance, as well as the frontline helpdesk.

Source: DCinemaToday

Dimension 3 Expo

Click to watch the video


P+S Technik

Alain Derobe



3-D Experimentation by Orange at Roland Garros

Click to watch the video

3-D Experimentation by Orange at Roland Garros

DVidea Introduces New Functionalities of its Innovative Theater Management System for Digital Cinema Exhibitors

DVidea, the company focused on developing tools to meet the challenges of asset management for digital cinema, unveils today new features for its state-of-the-art Theater Management System (TMS) at Cine Expo 2008. Designed to meet the needs of all exhibitors, Dvidea TMS provides the most comprehensive tools for media management and automation, including the control of servers from several D-Cinema manufacturers. Exhibiting in Hall 11, booth 167, Dvidea will demonstrate the ability to manage remotely from a pocket wireless device a Doremi DCP-2000 server.

DVidea TMS
DVidea’s Theater Management System offers a comprehensive set of easy-to-use tools to manage each aspect of the new digital workflows involved in theater exhibition. Intuitive interfaces for each task are easy to learn and use, and adaptable to a range of workflows. The DVidea TMS system is built on open standards for straight-forward installation, easy administration and reliable third-party integration. The benefits of the DVidea TMS are significant for small independents as well as larger network theater operators.

Key Features of DVidea TMS
- Library – Easy manual or automated ingest of features, pre-shows, local productions to the Library, your Central Content Catalogue.

- File and KDM Management – DVidea automatically handles your internal and external transfers and tracks the progress.

- Scheduling – Programming made simple; build or import pre-shows and ad blocks. Total flexibility for current and future scheduling as well as updating shows in-progress.

- Monitor – Real-time status of all devices and multiple viewing screens; built-in alerts.

- Equipment Automation – Pre-set controls for sound, lights, cinema servers, projectors and third party automation systems.

- Exchange – Automated data transfers of playlists, logs, financial information with booking, ticketing, point-of sales and network operating centers.

A wide range of additional features designed to improve workflow is included in DVidea Theater Management System.

DVidea Technology
DVidea’s Theater Management System is based on open technology standards. Built on proven, non-proprietary platforms, DVidea’s TMS integrates easily with industry-standard operating systems and hardware, including third-party automation systems. The system is DCI compliant, handles multiple formats and includes security protections with full control of the workflow processes.

Source: DCinemaToday

BSK & TECH Announces Initial $1.8M 3-D Chip Order With LCD Panel Supplier KDC

BSK and Technologies announced today that the company has received an initial purchase order for its stereoscopic 3-D chips from Korean Digital Communications Corp (KDC) for cell phones. The initial contract from KDC will supply Boda Electronics with 600,000 3D chips for the LCD panels wherein the proprietary 3D chips are integrated for applications on mobile phones. The initial 600,000 chip order represents apx. $1.8 M and will deliver 15,000 chips forthwith. These stereoscopic 3-D chips are priced at $5 however in larger runs average apx. $3 per chip.

In addition to the KDC initial purchase order, sales orders of around 2 million units are anticipated in the near term from other companies requiring the stereoscopic 3D image processing chips. The subsequent orders would bring total sales estimated to be $6 million (US) in this very early stage of marketing and initial introduction to the market this quarter.

Praotech Co. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of BSK&Tech Inc. received the purchase order. Praotech acquired the exclusive rights to the stereoscopic 3D image processing chip technology from the R&D company, Master Image Co. Ltd.

It should be noted that the global market for various displays is significant considering the sheer number of LCD displays used in cell phones, PC computers, home entertainment, laptops, PMP's etc. Each of these disparate mediums employ various forms of entertainment and other media that will benefit from the introduction of 3-D capability and display without glasses on their LCD displays.

Source: RedOrbit

Survey Sees Payoff on 3-D

Theaters that exhibited the November 2007 release Beowulf in 3-D saw a 65% sales increase in total boxoffice over comparable theaters that exhibited it in 2-D, according to a new study from the Nielsen Co.'s Nielsen PreView. Nielsen PreView's 3-D study analyzed more than 4,000 U.S. theaters -- some with 3-D and others without -- that housed at least four screens. These sites were considered comparable theaters in that they had a proven track record in the action/adventure genre.

Besides the edge in boxoffice sales, theaters that chose to exhibit Beowulf in 3-D on more than one screen saw their sales climb even higher to 100% versus what was expected. In part, the results reflect a premium ticket price for 3-D. "People are willing to pay this higher price for a better theater experience," said Dan O'Toole, new product director at Nielsen Ventures.

"With all the upcoming hype around 3-D, we wanted to take a hard look and see if there is truly a consumer appetite for 3-D," said Ann Marie Dumais, senior vp at Nielsen PreView. "Our new research approach contrasted theaters in such a way to demonstrate consumers, when given a choice, will choose 3-D."

A related Nielsen study found that while consumers have an appetite for 3-D films, they often lack general awareness and education about what 3-D is and where to find it. In a recent Nielsen moviegoer survey, 48% were unaware their movie was available in 3-D. "We are talking about are they aware that a given movie is offered in both formats, what that looks like and where to find it," Dumais said.

There are currently a little more than 1,000 3-D-ready digital cinema screens in North America. At least 10 3-D titles are expected to open in 2009.

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter