Studios Seek Geek Aid

"The MovieLabs Technology Open Challenge, running through the end of September, will provide grants of up to $100,000 for technologists working on solutions to problems like improved security for Internet content, converting a single piece of digital content so that it can be played on various consumer devices, or developing a movie screen that works equally well for 3D and 2D projection.

MovieLabs, based in Palo Alto, is a research-and-development group founded by the studios in 2005 with a $30 million bankroll. Silicon Valley tech veteran Steve Weinstein was hired to run the five-person group last July.

"There were some problems we were thinking about where we said, 'Why not get the industry thinking about some of these things?' " Weinstein said. "This is going to be a rolling list of problems that we'll add to."

He said the competition is designed to identify teams at universities, startup companies and larger firms that are working on potentially useful solutions and begin working with them. Some ideas may start out as little more than concepts on a whiteboard but be developed into products in partnership with MovieLabs, Weinstein said.

One problem MovieLabs is seeking help with is what it calls the "remote content access challenge" -- essentially, giving a consumer access to her collection of movies on various viewing devices while also verifying that she's the lawful owner of that content. "Why, if you're in a hotel, shouldn't you be able to access your movies on the TV in your room?" Weinstein asked.

Challenge is the first public initiative of MovieLabs, which was created with an assist from the MPAA. Weinstein says MovieLabs has thus far been working on helping studios evaluate new technologies like content recognition software, which would enable a content owner to track a piece of content, regardless of where it popped up on the Internet. "The idea for MovieLabs is to be a catalyst and help technologies get adopted," Weinstein said.

Whether MovieLabs will garner continued funding from the studios, Weinstein says, is "about us delivering value on the dollar."


MNP Enterprise Uses the SmartJog Network to Transfer Rushes to Cape Town

"During the filming of Les Deux Mondes, directed by Daniel Cohen, the production benefited from using SmartJog’s global digital delivery service to receive and screen daily rushes, in record time. During the month of January, the filming relocated to South Africa and the production company, MNP Enterprise, needed a way to view the scenes shot in South Africa, while on the set.

Since the content was sent digitally via SmartJog, it saved several days in the process of watching rushes. With a traditional system, such as sending tapes, the turnaround time would have involved two to three extra days, making it seven days from the time when the images were shot and the time they came back to the shooting location.

"SmartJog provides specialized solutions for all types of delivery needs, and in this situation, time is of the utmost importance," says Nicolas Dussert, Director of Sales for SmartJog. "By using our service, it was possible for Waterfront Studios to receive an hour’s worth of content within one hour."

Everyday, the 35mm negative film was sent to Eclair Laboratories for developing and digitization. "Once the files were compressed, all we had to do was put the elements onto the SmartJog server located at Eclair, and press the SEND button,” explained Philippe Mouton, Technical Video Director with Eclair Laboratories. “This type of transfer is extremely secure, very little supervision needed by us, and a delivery email notification comes an hour later which means that we could move onto other work without any worries."

The digital dailies were simultaneously sent via SmartJog to South Africa and the film's co-producers, Gaumont, and MNP Enterprise. Gaumont received the files in order to view the rushes and check the quality, and MNP kept informed in real time via SmartJog notifications, about when the content would arrive at Waterfront Studios. Then, every afternoon, a Waterfront Studios technician would retrieve the files from the SmartJog server in order to show on a video projector during an evening viewing. The workflow provided an opportunity to verify the process of transferring rushes directly into an Avid editing unit and play-out HD files, compressed into H.264 format.

"Using a USB key provided by SmartJog, needed in order to enter their secure Member Site, I could follow the transfer of rushes sent from the Eclair Laboratories,” says Célia Simonne, MNP's Production and Post-production Coordinator. “I was able to estimate the exact time remaining before the final delivery to the Waterfront Studios. Daily screenings were scheduled for precise times, and thus required on-the-dot punctuality that we were able to achieve, thanks to SmartJog."

Given the enthusiastic response from the production and post-production teams, Waterfront Studios has decided to keep the server on-site. "We were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the images we received, and the fact that the system is so flexible. The SmartJog network is closed and supervised, which means that exchanges and content are completely secure,“ explained Barry Strick of Waterfront Studios."

DreamWorks Sees Cinema’s Future in 3D

"Three-dimensional films are poised to revolutionise the cinema industry, says Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of independent US studio DreamWorks Animation.

Although basic 3D technology has been around for years, Mr Katzenberg said three “magical” factors are combining to bring it into the commercial mainstream: increased power of computers which enables crisper images, digital cinemas and affordable 3D eye-wear.

“It’s the biggest technology advance since the arrival of colour 60 years ago,” Mr Katzenberg told Les Echos, the Financial Times’ French sister paper.

A further advantage, he added, was that 3D films “cannot be pirated”.

From 2009 onwards, all DreamWorks’ films will be in 3D, starting with planned releases, Monsters Vs Aliens, How To Train Your Dragon, and Shrek 4.

The driving force for the switch-over would be the willingness of audiences to pay more to watch 3D films.

“Viewers are willing to pay $5 more per ticket to watch these films,” said Mr Katzenberg. Two-dimensional films would not disappear, but of the 500 films released each year, 15 per cent of them accounted for 75 per cent of cinema tickets sold, he said. “I believe two-thirds of these blockbusters would benefit from being 3D.”

Producers will face extra costs. Mr Katzenberg estimated the additional cost of making an animated feature film in 3D at $12m-$15m, while an action film would cost an extra $5m-$6m.

Cinemas would also have to invest in technology, although for those equipped with digital projectors, the investment would be only $16,000- $17,000 more, Mr Katzenberg said.

He added that it was this new strategy to focus on 3D digital films that had prompted DreamWorks to end its collaboration with British studio Aardman Animations, which makes its films using clay models."

By Emmanuel Paquette, The Financial Times

NHK & ATEME Partner For Ultra HD

"Ateme, an acknowledged leader in MPEG-4 video compression solutions, today announced that Ateme’s world-leading encoding technology was selected for use in the first public Ultra HD demonstration with MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) by NHK in Tokyo. The company is cooperating closely with NHK Labs in the design and development of this next-generation standard.

NHK, which first began research into HD in 1964, has now started public testing of the next-generation Ultra HD standard in 2007. NHK's Ultra HD technology includes a resolution of 7680 x 4320, which is up to 16X clearer than HDTV. The prototype super-fast cameras can capture data at a rate of 4,000 frames per second and the audio component is 22.2 (as compared to today’s 5.1 surround sound).

Ultra HD cameras, recorders, encoders and projectors are being developed now - 2009 will mark the introduction of the full specification for Ultra HD. NHK estimates that satellite transmission tests will begin in 2011, and by 2020, Ultra HD will be ready for broadcast to households.

Ultra HD broadcasting consumes a tremendous amount of bandwidth - 18 minutes of uncompressed footage consumes 3.5 terabytes of data and one minute of uncompressed footage consumes 194 gigabytes. The use of Ateme’s MPEG-4 AVC compression technology dramatically reduces the bandwidth requirements while maintaining the best quality."


Pirates' Raising Flag of Digital Cinema Community

"When "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" opens this weekend, it will mark another milestone for the digital cinema community.

"At World's End" will be the first feature to be released on more than 1,000 digital cinema screens domestically, Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said. It also will be the first movie to bow on more than 400 screens internationally, Viane added.

As of Monday, "Pirates" was set to open on 1,064 digital cinema screens domestically and an additional 410 internationally. Viane said the number could rise before this weekend's release.

"It went up 20-something (screens) in the last few hours," he said.

There are currently 3,229 digital screens domestically. Precise international figures weren't immediately available, but the pace of digital installations in the U.S. and abroad has quickened dramatically over the past 18 months amid major roll-out financings.

"The benefit of 3-D is showing a secondary reason to get into the digital world faster, and new complexes are opting to open with digital screens," Viane said.

With more films available for digital distribution, the competition for digital screens also has heated up. In addition to ease of distribution and lower costs, industry proponents tout another benefit of digital exhibition: virtually no image degradation.

"I believe 'Pirates' is going to be around a long time this summer (and) this guarantees that audiences will see this in the most pristine way throughout the engagement," Viane said. "In week 15, it will be as good-looking as this Thursday at 8 p.m."

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

Celebration! Cinema Begins a New "Golden Age"

"Hailed as the biggest technology change in movies since the inception of sound, Digital Cinema has come to Celebration! Cinema ( including Studio 28 and Cinema Carousel ). Officials at Celebration! Cinema announced today that most, or all of their 128 35mm movie screens will be converted to the Digital Cinema format by May 18th, 2007. This puts Celebration! Cinema in the top10% of theatres in the nation to convert to Digital Cinema.

The $14 million Digital Cinema project begins what is considered a new “golden age” in which alternative content such as concerts, sports and epic television events become a new force in the business. Ultimate picture clarity and color will be a part of every movie going experience.

Technically speaking, the conversion will allow Celebration! Cinema to play both features and pre-show programming through Christie 2K DLP Cinema projectors. Christie projectors contain the DLP chip consumers have been hearing about. The DLP chip is probably the word’s most sophisticated light switch.

It contains a rectangular array of up to 2 million hinge-mounted microscopic mirrors; each of these micromirrors measures less than one-fifth the width of a human hair. This means over 2.2 million pixels with over 68 billion possible colors on every screen.

Hollywood movie producers are happy because the picture’s color and clarity look more like the footage they were originally shooting. A better image on the screen is only the beginning however."


Thomson to Offer Content Mastering, Replication, and Key Management Services in Europe for Digital Cinema

"Thomson, through its Technicolor Digital Cinema business, today announced it is now able to provide digital cinema mastering, replication, distribution and key management services out of its West Drayton, United Kingdom digital intermediate and film facility.

The services now being offered out of London will enable Technicolor Digital Cinema to better serve its studio customers with a local presence in addition to its U.S.-based facilities in Burbank, CA and Wilmington, OH. The London-based location will also be able to master and replicate independent and local content, as well as advertising and alternative content.

The London facility offers JPEG 2K encoding and encryption capabilities for United States-based studios, European distributors, and independent producers, creating digital cinema packages. In addition, it offers the ability to create a DCDM by taking the digital intermediate and converting this into the DCI-specified TIFF files in X’Y’Z' colorspace.

Initially, the facility will have the capacity to replicate 200 drives per day, and will scale in line with demand. It will be able to replicate multiple versions of feature films simultaneously. Furthermore, Technicolor will be able to respond quickly to customer’s needs to create new versions of releases in Europe.

Finally, this location will directly interface with U.S.-based operations to provide seamless content, replication, and key management support in Europe."


SmartJog Offers an Electronic Solution for Last-Minute Delivery to the Cannes Film Festival

"SmartJog is currently servicing last-minute deliveries to the Cannes Film Festival by providing reliable and cost-effective full-service delivery through its SmartExpress service.

Cannes based Utram recently joined the SmartExpress network to offer an electronic solution for deliveries to Cannes in order for clients to meet important deadlines.

At the half way point of the festival, content including trailers, showreels, DVD elements, and a DCP were sent via SmartJog to Cannes from London, Los Angeles, and New York. The content was then couriered to various places around the festival including on the beach, penthouses, and screening rooms at the Palais. The transfer of the DCP, for a world-wide premiere event, was one of the first of its kind to be delivered entirely via satellite from Los Angeles to the Cannes Film Festival.

SmartExpress provides studios, distributors, and producers a way to meet their tight deadlines throughout the Festival. From locations around the world, digitized content is securely and quickly sent via SmartJog to Utram, the new SmartExpress facility located in Cannes. From there, the material is output to the specified tape or DVD and delivered to the final recipient, getting the content to the Festival faster than a plane or normal shipping methods.

SmartExpress will continue service to Cannes even after the completion of the Festival to fulfill other requests including future markets. SmartJog’s SmartExpress service currently reaches 44 territory facilities in 40 countries, covering all major cities worldwide. By using SmartExpress, clients avoid the delay and logistic hassles of mailing a tape, fiber feeds, expensive satellite uplink, or airplane-couriered delivery."


Ateme Enables Free To Expand IPTV Bandwidth

"Ateme, has made a major video encoder sale to leading French telco Free, a subsidiary of the Iliad Group

Free is the number one alternative ADSL operator in France with more than 2,498,000 subscribes as of March 31, 2007.

Free is one of the world leaders in IPTV deployments and is capable of leveraging Ateme compression technology throughout its infrastructure. Using the new Kyrion MPEG-4 AVC SD video encoder from Ateme, 18 standard definition television channels will go live at the unprecedented bit rate of 1.7 Mbps.

With such a significant bandwidth saving, Free will be able to sign up new subscribers who are currently unable to receive IPTV due to their distance from the DSLAM."


SeeReal Technologies Introduces New 3D Disruptive Technology for TV and Computer Displays

"SeeReal Technologies, a leader in the development of holographic 3D display solutions, will unveil a revolutionary new approach to computer generated Holography for TV and projection displays at SID International Symposium. This new approach overcomes the two significant challenges that have prevented 3D technology from becoming a mainstream option in consumer displays, and opens the doors to widespread 3D adoption in the coming years. SeeReal's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Armin Schwerdtner, will be leading a detailed and compelling presentation of this new approach at SID on Wednesday afternoon.

Holography was invented 60 years ago, but two inherent historical challenges have prevented it from becoming a mainstream technology in consumer displays:

- Insufficient Display Resolution: In order to achieve a viewing angle of 60° in holographic displays, a pixel pitch of about one wavelength is required. For a 47-inch display, that typically corresponds to approximately 250,000 times HDTV resolution.

- Inadequate Data Volume and Processing Requirements: Computation of each pixel's value requires significantly more steps than for a regular 2D display. Multiplied with the greatly increased pixel quantity required, enormous computational power is needed. Real time video quality holograms thus typically require up to several hundred Peta-FLOPS.

SeeReal's new breakthrough approach to electro-holography overcomes these two challenges through Tracked Viewing Window technology and real-time encoding of sub-holograms. Based on extensive experience and know-how in development of 3D display technologies, SeeReal has created a concept, the Viewing Window Technology, limiting pixel size to levels already known for HDTV applications. This, in combination with a real-time tracking system, eliminates superfluous elements and at the same time significantly reduces the requirements for real-time computing solutions. This new concept of limiting holographic imaging to the Viewing Windows is applicable to direct view (desktop or TV) as well as to projection imaging."


Blackmagic Design Announces Final Cut Studio 2 Support

"Blackmagic Design today announced the immediate availability of a new software update that adds support for the new features in Apple Final Cut Studio 2.

The new software version 6.2 for all Blackmagic Design DeckLink and Multibridge series capture and playback video products supports the new features in Final Cut Studio 2 including ProRes 422, open format timelines, new easy setup management and video output from Color.

ProRes 422 support allows real time capture directly into a compressed video format for a dramatic reduction in disk space requirements. When editing long form television programming, compressed video allows all source media to be loaded onto a disk array, while the quality is high enough for final program production.

Now all Blackmagic Design cards support capture and playback natively with the ProRes 422 format, and easy setups are included.

Unlike FireWire based products that require recompression before output to the connected video device, all Blackmagic Design cards use an uncompressed video link direct to the Final Cut Studio real time effects renderer. No FireWire recompression means editors get all their computer's CPU processing dedicated to more video layers and effects, and improved video quality.

This update supports the new Open Format Timeline technology which allows various video format files to be simultaneously played back in the editing timeline. Also supported is the new easy setup management, and video monitoring from Color software so you can see the exact color of your video work as customers perform color correction of their programs.

DeckLink v6.2 and Multibridge v6.2 software, with support for Final Cut Studio 2, is available today for download from the Blackmagic Design support web site at no charge."


Kodak Celebrates Advances in Digital 3D Cinema at Cannes Film Festival

"Kodak today announced it will host -- with 3ality Digital and REAL D -- a private reception celebrating the world premiere screening of U2 3D, the legendary rock band’s eagerly anticipated concert. The digital presentation officially debuts during the 2007 Festival International du Film Midnight Screening Section.

The exclusive, invitation-only reception, which will be held at the Kodak Pavilion on Saturday, May 19, will also highlight the latest technological advances in digital 3D cinema. 3ality Digital, which produced U2 3D, collaborated with REAL D, the world leader in digital 3D movie technology, on whose platform the film will be shown.

3ality produced the movie by shooting U2 in seven different concerts, using as many as nine cameras, during the band’s most recent South American tour. When the movie is released worldwide later this year, this digital presentation will be shown on REAL D systems currently installed in theaters around the world.

“We expect to have more than 1000 REAL D systems installed by that time,” said Joseph Peixoto, President, Worldwide Cinema, REAL D. “This is the first live action presentation to be released in REAL D and truly moves the medium forward. It provides a glimpse into the future of cinematic entertainment.”


Marquee Cinemas Signs Comprehensive Digital Deployment and Pre-Show Programming Deal with AccessIT

"Access Integrated Technologies today announced that Marquee Cinemas will be the tenth chain to convert 153 megaplex screens to digital cinema using AccessIT's Theatre Command Center software, pre-show programming and Christie DLP Cinema projectors. The completion of this contract brings AccessIT's Digital Cinema Program ( formerly named Christie/AIX ) to a total of 3,455 screens committed of the 4,000 in the Christie/AIX plan.

AccessIT Digital Cinema is the industry-leading deployment program for digital cinema that provides the funding, operations and administration for the company's studio-supported 4,000-screen digital cinema rollout plan supported by major studios and independent distributors, among others -- and exhibitors who receive turnkey, Digital Cinema systems in conformance with DCI specifications, including AccessIT's unique Library Management Server and Theatre Command Center software, Christie 2K DLP Cinema projectors and Doremi's DCP2000 JPEG server. To date, AccessIT has contracted to install more than 3,400 systems in forty-one states and has completed the rollout of more than 2,600 screens with exhibitors including Neighborhood Cinema Group, Celebration! Cinema, Cinema West, Cinetopia, Emagine, UltraStar, Galaxy, Rave and Carmike Cinemas and AccessIT's own Pavilion Digital Showcase Cinema."


Marquis Launches PostBox

"Marquis Broadcast will launch PostBox at Broadcast Live. Designed for fast media transfers from Avid Technology editing systems to a range of servers,

PostBox is an easy to use, cost-effective software utility for any facility or broadcaster whose workflow uses a mix of Avid and other vendors’ products. PostBox can be used with Avid Media Composer, Xpress, NewsCutter and Symphony editing systems. Operators simply drag finished Avid sequences onto a PostBox icon to initiate instant, faster than real-time transfers from the editing system to the destination server. The laborious task of outputting to tape and re-ingesting media into the playout server is eliminated and a higher level of automation is achieved.

Media is automatically transferred in a pre-selected format over a standard IP network. PostBox includes comprehensive sorting tools with configurable parameters for destination server addresses. Directories are stored as workstation-specific settings. File names are generated automatically at the destination server using the source sequence name.

PostBox supports a range of servers including the Omneon Spectrum, 360 IS, Leitch NX4000 and NX3600, Thomson M-Series and other generic PC servers using .AVI. Formats supported include DV 4:2:0 and 4:1:1 at 25 and 50Mb/s and IMX30, 40 and 50.

PostBox will be available from 19 June. Single user licences start at £99. A free 14-day evaluation is available from Marquis immediately."


Suns to Stage Real-time 3D HD Broadcast of Western Conference Finals

"The Phoenix Suns are in discussion to stage a real-time 3D HD broadcast of the NBA’s Western Conference finals, should they get past the San Antonio Spurs, at the US Airways Center for Suns fans who can’t attend the game.

The technology to be used, at a cost of about $300,000 for the single event, is the same as that used for the NBA’s All-Star game in Las Vegas earlier this year. It uses a system developed in cooperation with Vincent Pace ( via the PaceHD division and Fusion 3D camera system ), Bexel, Sony and Real-D.

Six customized HD camera systems ( each made up of two modified Sony HDC-1500 cameras with Canon HD lenses, mounted side by side ) will be set up in the competing team’s arena, strategically located at different positions. Two operators will man these unique camera rigs, one focusing on the typical game action, while the other provides depth of field coverage. The camera feeds are then distributed via fiber to a portable HD fly-pack system ( put together by Bexel ) in a mobile production truck that includes a Sony MVS 8000A switcher and an EVS XT[2] server.

The output of the switcher ( two uncompressed HD signals at about 3 Gb/s ) will be sent to the US Airways Center via fiber cabling, where fans will watch the game on a large-screen television. The 3D images will be displayed using two stacked Sony SXRD 4K projectors. The projectors are fitted with a special polarizing filter supplied by 3D specialists Real D. To get the full 3D effect, audience members will wear special polarizing glasses."


HDNet Makes 4K Plans

"Media entrepreneur Mark Cuban, founder of HDNet says the hi-def network will eventually go all 4K with a mix of 3D. Cuban, the co-founder of HDNet, said the 4K cameras from Red Digital Cinema have been ordered, and plans for field tests are under way.

Red debuted working models of the 4K camera at NAB2007 in Las Vegas. The display was so popular, there was an ever-present line around the company's exhibit. According to the Red Web site, about 1,500 of the $17,500 4K cameras have been ordered. The shipping date has not been released.

Production in 4K was established in time for the Las Vegas tradeshow by Peter Jackson, director of "Lord of the Rings." Jackson and crew shot and edited the short World War I film, "Crossing the Line," in 4K in less than two-and-a-half weeks.

HDNet currently originates its own material in 1080i and upconverts the rest. Cuban said there are also plans in the works to do the type of live HD streaming to theaters that the Metropolitan Opera launched earlier this year. Cuban has all the elements in place necessary to do HD theatercasting ( he co-owns Landmark Theatres, which has 209 screens in 58 theaters in 14 states and the District of Columbia ). He likewise co-owns 2929 Entertainment, a TV and movie production company, and Magnolia Pictures, the distribution arm, both located in Dallas."


LaserPacific Unveils aIM: End-to-End Color-Calibrated Post Workflow

"LaserPacific Media Corporation has unveiled accurateIMAGE (aIM), a color-calibrated workflow system that calibrates, connects and integrates all devices used for displaying images in various digital formats. It is utilized on set and for dailies, previews, the digital intermediate and distribution.

The system is designed to faithfully maintain the look created by cinematographers throughout every step of post-production. The aIM process also applies any color decisions or changes made during the early stages of the project to subsequent steps in the workflow. This eliminates the need to start over and recreate a look that had been previously dialed in.

The process incorporates proprietary Kodak color science coupled with LaserPacific's technology. It also supports the Color Decision List (CDL) developed by the American Society of Cinematographer's Technology Committee, which allows color decisions made on set to transfer easier and more accurately to the next level, and all the way through to color correction and final release.

The cinematographer documents a range of set ups during production with digital stills, which he or she manipulates with a personal computer to fine tune looks. The teleciné colorist uses the cinematographer's still images as a roadmap for creating digital dailies. An aIM DailiesPlayer is used to view dailies with an aIM digital projector. All devices used during the process are calibrated.

The images are encrypted for security and a proprietary Look Up Table (LUT) automatically adjusts the projected images to mimic film projection. The cinematographer can make adjustments in color balance using standard printer light controls that mimic film timing. His or her changes are exported to a CDL that is integrated into the workflow and used as the starting point for digital previews and DI timing."

More information

Panorama Labs Announces Successful Operation of World’s First Magneto-Photonic Projector

"Panorama Labs, the company pioneering magneto-photonic crystal technologies, announced today that it has completed and successfully operated its first magneto-photonic projector. This operational, small-scale digital projector was built to demonstrate Panorama Labs’ groundbreaking technology and is the first step in a process that will yield a revolutionary new display technology with tremendous benefits to the digital cinema and digital display communities.

The Panorama Labs projector shows breakthrough performance features including high-speed switching, pixel remanence, low power requirements and high thermal tolerance. This is the first time that light has been successfully directly manipulated by a projector imager, without utilizing liquid crystal or micro-mirrors, projecting an image on a screen. The heart of the system is a micro display light engine, based on the principle of magneto-optical switching, which will form the core technology for a number of applications including digital cinema projectors, rear projection TVs, home theater projectors, displays, mass storage, and telecom switching devices.

This is a milestone in the development of a 4K digital cinema projector, as it proves magneto-photonic crystal technology can compete with the older and more commonly deployed technologies like LCD, LCoS, and plasma in digital display, and DLP in theatrical display.

“This technology uses an imager that has no moving parts or analog drift, is inherently stable and is virtually heat proof. Our imager is fabricated at 600 degrees Celsius, so temperatures of 85 degrees Celsius or higher that are destructive to all other digital cinema projector imagers are of no consequence,” said Harry Mathias, Panorama Lab’s vice president of R&D for Digital Cinema."


SONY SXRD Projectors Snare Audiences Worldwide at Premiere Screenings of "Spider-Man 3" in Full 4K Resolution

"Worldwide audiences at premiere screenings of “Spider-man 3” were able to see the web-slinging superhero’s feats in more detail than ever before as the record-breaking box office hit was projected in 4K high-definition resolution with Sony’s SXRD digital projection system.

Technical preparation, installation of the projection systems and operation of the projectors at the screenings were coordinated and managed on-site internationally by Sony’s worldwide digital cinema teams in Japan, Singapore, Great Britain and the United States.

The screenings follow the recent announcement that Muvico Entertainment, one of the nation’s leading theater chains, is building a complex with Sony SXRD 4K projectors in all its theaters. According to Muvico, the Chicago complex is the company’s first step towards converting all of its 228 screens across the country to Sony digital technology.

All of the “Spider-man 3” premieres were screened using the SRX-R220 model digital cinema projectors, along with the Sony LMT 100 Media Block/Server. The units, which are engineered for DCI-compliance, are Sony’s newest 4K system designed specifically for movie theater projection."


AccessIT Signs Kerasotes Showplace Theatres to Exhibitor Management Software Systems

"Access Integrated Technologies today announced that Chicago-based Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres will use AccessIT's Exhibitor Management System (EMS) for film booking, analysis, and film expense processing needs driven by circuit expansion.

EMS is a powerful software application that enables theatre owners to centrally manage all operational and financial aspects of movie exhibition today, and as the industry transitions to digital cinema. EMS is becoming a focal point for managing digital media and the vast quantity of data now available. EMS seamlessly interfaces to AccessIT's industry leading Digital Cinema Theatre Command Center software."


Disney High on 3D 'Robinsons'

"The 3D digital cinema engagements of the Walt Disney's "Meet the Robinsons" have delivered about 31% of the film's total gross, said Chuck Viane, president of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Domestic Distribution. The film's cume as of Monday was an estimated $88.4 million.

The 3D screens represented 14% of the total screens from the film's March 30 opening. Still, Viane said they now are delivering more than three times the per-theater average of the 2D version. Viane noted the staying power of the format, saying that as of last week, "Robinsons" was still playing on more than 400 of the 581 Real D 3D-ready digital cinema screens on which the film opened domestically.

Viane said the 3D versions will continue to perform for additional weeks. "We still have 3D screens that will probably play up until the digital screens are needed for "Pirates 3,' " he said.

Looking ahead, Viane said, "Exhibitors have seen the success of 3D, they are committing more auditoriums for 3D. ... (and) 2008 will be good; 2009 will be a watershed year for 3D."

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

DCI Announces Contract with Cinecert for D-Cinema Compliance Testing & Validation

"Over the next six months, Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) and CineCert will work to take DCI's compliance test program to its next level.

DCI has entered into a contractual arrangement with CineCert to complete the validation of the compliance test program begun by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits.

In February 2006, DCI contracted with Fraunhofer to develop a standardized set of procedures to comprehensively test equipment for compliance with the DCI Digital Cinema System Specification, commonly referred to as the DCI Specification. The output of the Fraunhofer project was Version 0.9 of the DCI Compliance Test Plan, released February 14, 2007.

However, due to the non-compliant status of digital cinema equipment at the time, Fraunhofer was unable to complete a full validation process. The final plan developed by CineCert and DCI will include errata to the DCI Specification and all relevant SMPTE digital cinema standards, most of which were not officially published at the time of the Fraunhofer effort.

In addition to the final test plan, a specification for test materials and the test materials themselves will be created. Specialized test plans will be prepared for a variety of digital cinema hardware and software products, included servers and projectors. Another deliverable will be standardized test reports, which will allow for meaningful comparison of features and test results between tested products.

Concurrent with the CineCert project, DCI will undertake an open process to identify testing entities to perform the tests identified by the DCI compliance test program. That selection process is under development and details will be announced in the future.

The DCI member studios have approved and published version 1.1 of the Digital Cinema System Specification, dated April 12, 2007. Since the initial publication in July 2005 of the DCI Specification, Version 1.0, the specification has received several rounds of errata. Version 1.1 does not include any new revisions; rather it incorporates all 148 previous errata into the body of the specification document, making it easier to read."


XDC To Install 16 Digital Systems at The Cannes Film Festival

"As the official digital cinema partner of the Cannes Film Festival, XDC is providing all of the necessary equipment and technical support to more than 16 auditoriums with over 60 digital screenings including the parallel sections during the May competition.

More specifically, seven 2K DLP Cinema projectors will be installed into the following auditoriums: Lumière (2 projectors in order to perform 3D projections), Debussy, Bazin, Buñuel (also equipped for 3D projections), 60th Anniversary Theatre and the Beach Cinema.

For the Cannes Film Market, one 2K DLP Cinema projector will be installed into the Bory auditorium whereas Gray d’Albion and Palais will be equipped with seven full HD DLP Standard projectors. In addition, one 2K DLP Cinema projector will be placed inside Espace Miramar for Critics’ Week.

XDC will rely on two expert manufacturers which will deliver their state of the art products. First, XDC has selected Christie as their exclusive supplier of digital cinema projectors for the Festival. Secondly, Doremi has been selected by XDC as the exclusive supplier for the JPEG2000 digital cinema servers.

As Official Partner, XDC charges the producer, filmmaker or distributor a flat fee amount which includes conformation of the source material, encoding, encryption and quality controls. The digital print is generated at XDC Digital Content Lab where an encrypted backup is kept in case of digital release. The print is recycled after the Film Festival.

The provisional list of the motion pictures to be screened digitally is as follows:
- Official Competition: Zodiac, The Last 15, The Oate’s Valor
- Out of Competition: Ocean’s Thirteen
- Midnight Screenings: U2 3D
- Special Screenings: 11th Hour, The War, He Fengming, …
- Cannes Classics: Maurice Pialat - L’amour existe, Brando, Lindsay Anderson - Never Apologize, Bound by Chastity Rules, Suspiria, Man of Cinema - Pierre Rissient, Donne moi tes yeux, Hondo, Rio Bravo, Hamlet, Henry V, Richard III, …
- Critics’ Week: Heroes, El Asaltante, …
- Film Market: Elvis and Annabelle, Night Train, The Women of Chiapias, Scar, …
- Director’s Fortnight: Cruising, Un autre homme, Zoo, …"


DCI Reference DCP & KDM

"In its continuing efforts to promote standardization and interoperability, Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) is making a reference Digital Cinema Package (DCP) and Key Delivery Message (KDM) available on a DVD-ROM disc. This reference material has been produced to comply with the current DCI Specification and Errata and the SMPTE standards referenced below."

More information here

Digital Cinema : DVS Creates Facts

"The DI system CLIPSTER performs essential steps in the creation chain of a digital cinema movie, from the digital cinema distribution master (DCDM), over the digital cinema package (DCP) to encoding the data with the key delivery message (KDM).

In order to create a DCDM, post production houses require DI systems that finalize with a high performance. Ideally the data consist of 16 bit TIFF X’Y’Z’. CLIPSTER, DVS’ DI workstation, performs this process. Of course, CLIPSTER will also carry out the whole DCI mastering, then compressing the data in JPEG2000 in real time at this stage.

Together with audio tracks, subtitles and other metadata, these files are finalized as the DCP by bundling all source data as MXF files. CLIPSTER thus allows the delivery of the data package in the correct container format via satellite, messenger or server to its final destination."


Up to $75,000 per minute for 3-D

"The holy grail for the cost of converting a feature to stereoscopic 3D appears to be $50,000-$75,000 per minute, according to Buzz Hays, senior producer of 3D stereoscopic feature films at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

This range, he said, looks like the point where companies are willing to invest in 3D, though he emphasized that production needs to be made more efficient to meet this goal.

Costs, time and technology were among the topics during a frank discussion about the 2D-to-3D stereoscopic conversion process, presented Thursday by the Visual Effects Society Education/Technology Committee. The standing-room-only event was staged for members of the VES, DGA and Producers Guild of America.

Addressing scheduling, Hays estimated a conversion could be a six- to nine-month process at Imageworks but admitted that the company already has ramped up for the work. Here's the kicker: Hayes estimated that the conversion process of a feature if handled by a single person could equate to roughly 26,000 days.

"To ensure 3D stereoscopic (films), we need to find better and less expensive (production techniques)," he said. "We need to find ways to automate (the process) to make it more efficient, without compromising quality." The process, he said, is roughly 40% elements prep, which includes a large amount of rotoscoping, a process in which animators capture movement information by tracing over film frames, and 60% compositing and other post processes.

Also presenting was Phil McNally, who supervised the stereoscopic process on the Walt Disney Co.'s "Meet the Robinsons" and is now on board at DreamWorks Animation as global stereoscopic supervisor. He addressed creativity, saying the 3D torch has been passed to the artists, following past technological setbacks.

"We've really eliminated 90% of the technology problems, now it's up to us, the artists ... to take the story and create something unique for stereoscopic 3D," he said."

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

Quantel Demonstrates AVC-Intra Compression

"Quantel has demonstrated AVC-Intra in an exclusive technology preview at NAB.

AVC-Intra is generating considerable interest as a next-generation compression scheme that potentially offers significant improvements over today’s compression technologies.

AVC-Intra can deliver either much improved picture quality, full-sampling 4:2:2 10bit at same bit-rate as DVCPROHD, or similar picture quality to DVCPROHD at half the bit-rate. This versatility is exciting broadcasters and post houses around the world, and Quantel is exploring its full potential in all applications.

The demonstration showed material produced by Panasonic’s AVC-Intra codec being ingested and processed by a Quantel editing system."