HD Progress Makes Interlace Redundant

"Broadcasters should forget about shooting interlaced HD if they want to deliver high quality at low bitrates, according to the EBU at this week's HD Masters conference in London. In its tests, the EBU found that the lower the transmission bit rate, the better 720p-originated pictures were liked. "To give the same perceived quality picture, 1080i needed about 5Mbps more bandwidth than 720p," said EBU Senior Engineer Hans Hoffmann, writes David Fox.

In general, at all rates of compression (except uncompressed), 720p looked slightly better than even 1080 50p on LCD screens and about equal on plasma displays - and gave reasonable results at even 6Mbps when 1080 50i was deemed to be worse than uncompressed SD images. Because of the amount of extra detail needing to be compressed, 1080 50p required about 3Mbps extra for a picture judged to be about 70% the quality it delivered uncompressed.

Hoffmann concluded that, "We should avoid interlaced in production and emission for HDTV," and that "720p/50 in emission provides the best bandwidth-quality trade-off for displays up to about 50 inch."

However, broadcasters are not so keen on 720. "Progressive makes a hell of a lot of sense, and you [should] go for the highest standard, which is 1080 at the moment," said Paul Kafno, managing director, Park Pictures, and one of Europe's HD pioneers.

As far as the BBC is concerned, there is "only one production standard", and currently 90% of its programmes are at the top of the standard, which is 1920x1080 at 25p. "You can't get higher quality than that, just better motion," explained Andy Quested, principal technologist, BBC Production. For him, 1080 50p will be the target for sport or anything that they want to look like video.

"720 is not HD. We can not sell it, so we can not use it," with the exception of Panasonic's Varicam and HDX900, added Quested. But the BBC has to get special dispensation for these cameras (from co-producers like Discovery), and even these will progress to 1080p soon (with Panasonic's move to 100Mbps AVC).

Of course, interlaced (at 1080 50i) still has a place in sports and OB production. It is what OB companies have now and handling 1080 50p requires new technology and/or mezzanine compression techniques. Those are emerging now, but Hoffmann warned: "Do not expect a low-cost implementation in 1080 50p end to end for another three years."

It is the cost of upgrading to 50p, especially so soon after equipping studios for 1.5Gbps HD, that makes Andy King, head of technology, BBC Resources, "very nervous, very scared. …If 50p is pushed early, it's going to cause real problems with paying off our [existing] investment in HD."


Sensio signs a Letter of Intent with Kord for the development of a new 3D Television

"Sensio Technologies, the inventor of the Sensio 3D technology, announced the signature of a Letter of Intent with Kerner Optical Research and Development Corporation ("Kord") for the development of a new 3D television for the consumer market.

This Letter of Intent states that Kord is seeking to integrate the Sensio 3D technology as well as the real-time conversion of 2D images to 3D, into a new LCD HD television, which is currently the object of a development contract between Kord and LCD television manufacturer SpectronIQ. Sensio and Kord will share the development budgets allocated for the project and the final terms of the agreement will be specified in a contract to be concluded at a later date.

This Letter of Intent represents a key milestone for Sensio as part of its strategic development plan focused on the integration of the Sensio 3D technology into electronic devices designed for the consumer market. This step is also significant as it will contribute to Sensio's objective of becoming the industry's 3D standard format."


3D Cinema Trend

"Screen Digest released its latest report, 'The Business Case for Digital 3D Cinema Exhibition'. The report looks at the rationale for the roll-out of 3D screens and finds that early adopter exhibitors are already reaping very strong returns on their investments. Exhibitors who are not planning to equip their theaters with 3D screens run a serious risk of being left behind.

As the Hollywood Studios invest heavily in movies designed exclusively for 3D, the number of screens will need to increase dramatically from its current low base in order to support this new wave of 3D films.

The lure of premium content will drive rapid growth by exhibitors in the number of 3D-ready screens and in these early stages of the market, first adopters have already capitalized on the preferential box office returns from the first slate of movies. Nevertheless, questions still remain as to whether there is real value for exhibitors in continuing to invest in a large-scale rollout of 3D-ready screens.

The race to 3D
At the end of 2006 there were 258 digital 3D screens worldwide, but expansion has been rapid with each new release resulting in a mushrooming of screens. During the first six months of 2007, the number of screens worldwide has almost tripled to 750, with 85 percent of them in the US and much activity in Korea, Australia and Germany. With seven screens, the UK is second in Europe behind Germany, which boasts 22.

The rollout of 3D equipment (comprising 3D glasses, hardware, and if necessary, a silver screen) is highly concentrated among the leading multiplex operators, and the top five movie theatre chains in the US now control over 80 per cent of the market by screens. Globally there are now 41 cinema chains in 21 different territories that have equipped more than one digital 3D screen. By 2009 Screen Digest forecasts that there will be over 5,000 enabled digital 3D screens worldwide, equivalent to more than 5 per cent of modern cinema screens. Three quarters of these will be in the US.

3D equals 3x the revenue
Analysis of box office data from the first four digital 3D releases (Chicken Little, Monster House, Nightmare before Christmas 3D and Meet the Robinsons) has shown that digital 3D screens generate on average three times more revenue, driven by a 2.4 times higher attendance ratio per screen when compared with 2D screenings for the all important first weekend. Moreover, the introduction of flexible ticket pricing has opened up a new profit share structure in which exhibitors share the resulting 'surcharge' revenue from higher ticket prices with the Studio, an incentive for both sides of the industry alike.

Break-even analysis
Screen Digest has produced financial analysis which suggests that exhibitors will require a regular supply of at least three 3D movies a year in order to see a return on their investment in the equipment.

Applying an average price premium of $2.00 per movie ticket, exhibitors could net over $50,000 profit per screen, once a critical benchmark of seven 3D releases is met per annum, and the costs for the 3D equipment have been deducted. The emergence of rival digital 3D systems, led by proprietary technology from Dolby/Infitec, will drive the market harder beginning 2008. RealD is currently the leading supplier of digital 3D equipment, accounting for just under 95 per cent of the market in the first half of 2007.

3D comes at a good time for the cinema industry
In recent years, cinema admissions in the key markets worldwide have stabilized as some movie-goers have chosen to stay at home. However, just as the technology gap between cinema and home cinema was getting smaller, the advent of digital 3D has enabled the cinema industry to raise the bar higher, and maintain its competitive edge.

Charlotte Jones, Screen Digest Analyst and author of the report says "Digital 3D has the potential to give the cinema industry a shot in the arm to counter flat admissions over recent years. Just as the gap between cinema and home cinema seemed to be getting smaller, the cinema industry has again proven that it can reinvent itself in the face of competition from other release windows. Superior box office returns from early digital 3D releases point towards a strong business case for a rapid roll-out of 3D screens."


Microspace Delivers the North American Premiere of “Transformers” via Satellite to 4,000 Viewers

"Microspace Communications Corporation, the leading distributor of digital cinema via satellite, today announced that it delivered the North American premiere of DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures’ release of “Transformers” to the L.A. Film Festival on June 27, 2007.

The exclusive pre-release screening of “Transformers” represents the first time a motion picture has been delivered via satellite to the L.A. Film Festival. The distribution is one of the largest film premieres in history and has been screened simultaneously to thousands of viewers.

“Digital delivery is a key element in the change to digital cinema,” said Jim Tharp, president, domestic distribution for Paramount Pictures.

“Satellite delivery of motion pictures continues to gain significant traction among studios and exhibitors as return-on-investment is realized,” said Curt Tilly, manager of digital cinema distribution at Microspace. “The quality and reliability that digital delivery yields, enables both studios and exhibitors to feature the highest quality presentation the first time and every time.”

Microspace collaborates with studios, content preparation companies and exhibitors to utilize satellite distribution and its benefits. The proven workflow and electronic delivery of Microspace’s satellite distribution provides the industry with a turn-key solution for content delivery and minimizes the potential issues and costs associated with physical delivery. Through the use of two discrete satellite systems, movies and keys are delivered on-time, every-time at Microspace connected theatres."


"Digital Projection in Cinema" by french CNC

"Following Daniel Goudineau's report and subsequent debates and developments, the purpose of this document is to submit for discussion by the various parties concerned the CNC's intermediary position on the main issues raised by digital projection in cinemas. The aim is to define the general framework for deploying digital projection, then, on this basis, to analyse the economic conditions for this deployment, and prepare the measures that appear necessary.

The CNC (National Centre of Cinematography) wishes to assist the introduction of digital projection while respecting the exhibitors' freedom of choice; to anticipate developments that fall outside the fundamental principles indicated below, and to prepare for the initial phase, which is characterised by the coexistence of the two screening methods in the short- and medium-term, and the maintenance of physical supports for digital projection.

Digital projection in cinemas needs to be implemented according to the fundamental principles that lie behind the approaches and proposals explored in this document, which aim to guarantee the continued existence of the current system with its diversity of programming and high level of creativity, as follows:
- the quality and security of digital projection.
- a similar technological level for all cinemas.
- the neutrality of technology regarding the prevailing relations between the various players in the film network (guarantee of independent programming).

The approaches laid out above as regards the technical, economic and legal points of view should be considered as working guidelines to be studied by the professionals, in view of aiding preparations for digital projection in cinemas through discussion."

Download the document

Arts Alliance Media Announces First European Commercial Digital Cinema Virtual Print Fee Agreements with Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures

Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures International and Arts Alliance Media, Europe’s leading provider of digital film distribution services, have reached non-exclusive long term Virtual Print Fee (VPF) agreements for digital cinema deployment across Europe, for close to 7000 screens over the next few years. Under the landmark agreements, Fox and Universal have committed to distribute feature film content digitally to Arts Alliance Media DCI-compliant digital cinema projection systems throughout Europe; to the UK and Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, the Nordic region and the Benelux. Arts Alliance Media is also engaged in active negotiations with other studios including Buena Vista International and Paramount Pictures International. The VPF business model is a means of financing the conversion to digital cinema, where both distributor and exhibitor contribute over time towards the total cost of the digital projection and server equipment.

Julian Levin, Executive Vice President, Digital Exhibition and Non-Theatrical Sales and Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox commented, “This arrangement represents the very first significant plan to finance and roll out DCI compliant digital projection systems across Europe. Fox remains committed to the transition to a digital cinema platform and looks forward to supplying its movies to digital projection systems installed by Arts Alliance Media. The image quality, content, security and distribution/exhibition efficiencies, including 3D exhibition, offered by digital projection clearly exceeds 35mm film. We are delighted to have closed this arrangement with our colleagues at Arts Alliance Media who have the experience and technical expertise to manage this process.”

Duncan Clark, Executive Vice President of Universal Pictures International agreed, “Arts Alliance's strategic move into this all-important arena is warmly welcomed and supported by Universal Pictures. The digital world is the future, and we as a studio are committed to its continual and sustained growth. We look forward to supplying our movies to this new digital platform and, along with audiences, reaping the rewards by continuing to enhance the theatrical experience.”

Howard Kiedaisch, AAM’ s Chief Executive Officer said, “These milestone agreements finally offer European exhibitors a viable commercial model to adapt their screens to digital cinema and put together a sustainable rollout strategy. The support of Fox and Universal is a strong endorsement of AAM and our ability to handle the complexities of a pan European deployment. We will announce further signings with other studios and independent distributors shortly.”

Fiona Deans, AAM’s Director of Digital Cinema added, “We are delighted to conclude these agreements and finally lift the roadblock on European digital cinema rollout. Undoubtedly, this is also a huge step forward for Arts Alliance Media and we are thrilled to secure the commitment and support of Fox and Universal, truly dedicated digital cinema pioneers.”


S.two DFR4K Digital Field Recorder to Premiere at CineGear

"S.two announces it will demonstrate for the first time its new 4K recording solution at this week’s Cine Gear Expo. The new DFR4K features full integration with Dalsa Origin 4K cameras using InfiniBand Fibre connections. The coupled systems will be shown on the S.two stand #T4 at the Wadsworth Theatre and Grounds June 22-23, 2007.

The DFR4K plays Dalsa 4K images in real time up to the maximum supported frame rate of the Dalsa camera. This closely coupled integration with Dalsa Origin cameras adds all the capabilities of the camera plus all the on set convenience, productivity, efficiency and robustness that S.two has shown on many completed feature films, the most noted of late being David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’.

An Industry “first”, the 24V DC powered DFR4K production units allow the camera to be free of location logistics so that true ‘run and gun’ style movie making can be done in 4K resolution.

This debut showing of the DFR4K prototype heralds a complete set of DFR4K products for all extended resolution cameras and projects allowing a full choice of palettes for the discerning filmmaker. S.two extended definition workflow will be fully adapted for 4K movie making including offline, archiving and post integration. The DFR4K extended definition workflow is added to S.two’s HD, HD RGB, 2K and 3K products supporting other leading cameras."


RTL Television Selects OpenCube MXF Ingest Servers For Archive Migration

"RTL Television in Cologne, Germany, has upgraded its archive-migration process by adopting several OpenCubeSD v2.0 Ingest servers.

The OpenCube products were designed to smooth the transition to tapeless production, seamlessly introducing the MXF format into all types of audiovisual workflows. With their easy network connectivity, the OpenCube servers are the most reliable platform currently available in the market.

As the broadcast industry moves to IT-based facilities, it faces the challenge of managing the new metadata-enabled MXF standard in ways that enhance media exchange and ensure long term reliable media retrievals. Thanks to several key features — SDI and AES input/output, the versatility of the Mpeg2 or DV encoding formats and the MXF file wrapper — the OpenCubeSD Ingest server guarantees interoperability and high connectivity with other industry equipment.

After being digitized by OpenCubeSD, the ingested MXF media are directly dropped on a central storage so that they may be stored to an archive library supplied by IBM. The IBM essence management software – ADMIRA application – is also including OpenCube MXFTk software for all MXF file format handling, in particular for the MXF media partial restore process.

RTL Television’s migration process began in March 2007 and will involve more than 130,000 hours of video content over a period of one up to two years. RTL chose the OpenCubeSD server for parts this operation mainly because of its high performance — the possibility of double control through VDCP or through its powerful GUI — that enables rapid transfer of media content stored on videotape to MXF file format."


XDC Presents Advanced JPEG2000 Digital Cinema Server at Cinema Expo 2007

"XDC introduces the CineStore Solo G3 digital cinema server at the 2007 Cinema Expo International Convention and Trade Show in Amsterdam June 25-29. This hybrid JPEG2000/MPEG2 system supports all currently standardised Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) specifications and is the advanced core unit at the heart of all XDC state-of-the-art digital cinema installations.

“The CineStore Solo G3 digital cinema server is the first to be based on the innovative FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) solution capable of JPEG2000 DCI/SMPTE compliant decoding (as well as MPEG2 decoding). This provides a really competitive advantage in comparison with the ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) solutions implemented in current D-Cinema servers. Indeed, the G3 server is easily upgradeable as the FPGA can be reprogrammed … that means the upgrade is performed economically and securely by remote control … This avoids swapping hardware inside the machine”, says Jérôme Delvaux, R&D Manager at XDC. “The security of the whole system has also been studied to have one of the most secure systems, in accordance with DCI specifications, and furthermore, we have implemented into the G3 a high speed SATA connectivity enabling real-time ingest of JPEG2000 content. The internal SATA port is used with our new XDC’s Cinedisk, which is a Promise interoperable hard drive. Of course, any other interoperable hard drives can be connected to the G3 by using the external connections (Ethernet, e-SATA or USB2) provided on the server.”

“We are very excited that XDC has selected intoPIX JPEG2000 compression technology as one of the many innovations incorporated into the advanced G3 server” comments Jean Francois Nivart, CEO intoPIX. “The superb implementation of the leading edge IPX-JP2K image management core takes every advantage of its security, flexibility and robustness to ensure the highest possible standard of content delivery”.

Thierry Van der Kaa, Product Manager at XDC points out, “The XDC team has fully redesigned its products, based on over 6 year’s expertise of the digital cinema user requirements. This enables XDC to offer a full range of products that meet the needs of the exhibitors, system integrators and distributors. The masterpiece at the centre of the CineStore product family, the Solo G3 has now the most user-friendly interface on the market with its large 15” touchscreen monitor“. Thierry Van der Kaa adds “The new G3 server also will be equipped with the CineStore Audi. This newly developed unit provides the interconnection of the G3 to the cinema audio B-chain in order to provide digital to analogue conversion, external analogue audio source inputs and high quality signal isolation to avoid unexpected noise.”

The XDC G3 server is an interoperable system, very flexible and fully integrated into the cinema environment (i.e. automation, sound and pre-show systems). It is connected via high-speed DSL to the XDC Network Operations Centre for online support and assistance. XDC’s 7/7 helpdesk staff is composed of multilingual skilled engineers servicing over 300 digital cinema installations spread on 10 European countries. The automatic system health reports generated by the G3 are sent to the CineStore Data, XDC’s central management system, to provide proactive preventative maintenance operations. The CineStore Data is also used for the upgrades and the remedial support operations. In addition, the CineStore Data is the foundation stone for content related extranet services which are available according to client requirements on the XDC network.

The G3 can be remotely controlled via the CineStore Plaza, XDC’s Theatre Management System (TMS) composed of the Plaza-Catcher which ingests content securely stored on Cinedisks, and the Plaza-Library which securely stores over 40 films in JPEG2000 format."


Monitor’s Guide

"Sony has addressed the CRT-performance gap head-on with its newest LCD-based broadcast monitor, the BVM L230. Featuring an LED backlight system for an improved color gamut, as well as a 120-Hz scan rate with black frame insertion for reduced smearing, the L230 surprised many of the attendees at the April NAB convention in Las Vegas. Almost no one expected an LCD monitor to have this kind of image quality.

"We had a room set up where you couldn’t see the monitors’ bezels or logos," says Garry Mandle, senior product manager for Sony’s Display Products Group. "We took our best 24-inch CRT monitor, and we placed it up against two of the L230s. It was completely black, so there was optimal viewing. Then we asked anyone who came by to tell us which were which. On average, only about one in ten was able to tell."

While I wasn’t able to take the comparison test, I did see the L230 on display at the booth. It was truly impressive. There’s one hitch, however. Shipping in October, it’s expected to sell for about $25,000. For high-end projects and post-production houses that can afford it, the L230 would be a viable and space-saving option for color-critical and motion-critical work.

Why choose an LED backlight rather than a traditional CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) backlight ? According to Mandle, with a standard CCFL solution, you start with 8 bits of color and have to take away bits if you want to adjust the monitor’s white balance. That’s why most LCD monitors don’t have a white balance control. "With LED, we can adjust the RGB value of the backlight because we have 12 bits driving it. You have about 4,000 steps in each color where you can do your adjustment."

The 120-Hz scanning rate in Sony’s BVM L230 provides the time needed to insert a black frame between every video frame. The result is a cleaner image with less distortion. "Basically we erase the panel when we load a black frame," says Mandle. "So any information from the previous frame is gone before we load a new frame of information. There’s no residual information, and there’s no smear."

With traditional LCD monitors, objects moving diagonally across the screen often exhibit a jerky, stuttering effect. The monitor has to guess where the object will be next. And with faster movements, it often guesses wrong. To counter that problem, the L230 incorporates a new processor designed for this particular LCD panel. "The processor has a wide enough bit path and is fast enough to complete its decisions in time," explains Mandel.

The L230 has a native 1920 x 1080 resolution, though it can accept a 2K (2048 x 1080) signal. "Since you’ll have 64 extra pixels of content on either side, there’s a control you can rock in order to see those areas," says Mandle. It has video inputs for both 10-bit and 12-bit color.

Other LCD monitors that can handle high-resolution video include Astrodesign’s DM-3400. The 56-inch monitor supports an impressive 3840 by 2160 pixels at a 60-Hz scan rate. That resolution (sometimes referred to as Quad HDTV mode) works out to a 16:9 aspect ratio. It will set you back a hefty $60,000.

Cine-tal’s Cinemage line of monitors ($9,950 to $35,000) offers advanced color control right down to the individual pixel. The 1920 x 1200 resolution 24-inch LCD display supports 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 video, RGB and YCbCr data values, and 8-bit and 10-bit color. An OmniTek Dual-Link Waveform Monitor and Vectorscope is integrated into the display. A Cinemage monitor targets such tasks as screen matching, color pre-visualization, multi-camera set-ups and image quality control.

Color calibration doesn’t have to be an expensive add-on for a monitor. Pantone’s hueyPRO ($129) includes an ambient light sensor to deliver a consistent reading under most lighting conditions.

The company’s Eye-One Display 2 ($249) is designed to calibrate color over a mix of displays, including CRT, desktop LCD and laptop LCD.

Datacolor’s Spyder2PRO ($249) includes calibration profiles for front projectors, as well as CRT and LCD displays. The Spyder2PRO’s Ambient Precise Light profile settings are optimized for a broad range of studio lighting environments.

If you need real-time color calibration, check out Teranex’s ClearVue monitoring system ($3,995 without a monitor, or $4,795 with a 24-inch 1920 x 1200 LCD monitor). It uses Silicon Optix’s Realta image processing engine to accurately map incoming signals pixel-by-pixel to the LCD’s native resolution. The Realta processor can handle an incredible 1 trillion operations per second. This monitoring system provides the real-time color calibration capabilities associated with broadcast CRT monitors, but at the higher resolutions associated with LCD monitors. When purchased with the accompanying monitor, ClearVue can provide D65 performance from lowlights to highlights."

By David English, Studio Monthly

intoPIX Announces a Complete Solution for Digital Cinema Multi-Asset Decryption

"Adding to its established range of encryption and decryption security cores intoPIX has announced the availability of a highly integrated and cost effective Multi-Asset decryption IP-core, the IPX-AES-MD.

With the introduction of the IPX-AES-MD, intoPIX now provides an elegant solution to decrypt all Digital Cinema essence streams - such as video, audio and subtitle assets - in a single core.

Capable of simultaneously managing up to 16 decryption contexts, the IPX-AES-MD significantly simplifies the content data path and communication with the Mediablock Security Manager.

Handling more than 1Gbps, the IPX-AES-MD easily exceeds the DCI bit rate requirement; and is particularly convenient in respect of connection between a PCI-Express or Gbit Ethernet link between the server and the Mediablock.

Furthermore any of the intoPIX expanded range of AES Asset Decryptors can be combined with the intoPIX JPEG 2000 2K or 4K Decoders and AES Link Encryption IP’s into a single FPGA.

Providing what intoPIX claims to be the most efficient and secure DCI compliant Digital Cinema picture processing chain available, the integration of Decoding, Asset Decryption and Link Encryption into a single chip also brings the dream of a single chip Media block significantly closer to reality."


Biz Trying to Widen Scope as 3-D Surges

"Five thousand 3-D-ready digital-cinema screens will be installed in the U.S. by May 2009. That is the current target in the stereoscopic 3-D movement, according to Joshua Greer, president and co-founder of leading 3-D provider Real D.

Another goal is to reach 1,200 screens for the November release of "Beowulf" in 3-D, upping the screen count from the roughly 700 that were in place as of the March 30 opening of "Meet the Robinsons" in 3-D.

Vendors have expressed confidence that the goals are achievable. Meanwhile, some suggest the target number of screens needs to be set even higher to accommodate competing 3-D releases in 2009.

The movement continues to prompt discussion and analysis, some of which occurred last weekend at the Visual Effects Society's annual VES Festival of Visual Effects at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.

For instance, the topic surfaced during a panel on the making of the "Shrek" features. DreamWorks Animation already has said that it intends to release all of its animated features in 3-D beginning in 2009. "Monsters vs. Aliens" is expected to be the first out of the gate from the studio; the initiative also would include "Shrek 4," slated to bow in 2010.

The speakers from DWA report that the studio is at work on the creation of the 3-D stereoscopic production pipeline, which likely would be a part of DWA's Glendale locale as well as its PDI facility in Northern California.

Head of character animation Tim Cheung explains that much of what was used to create some Imax 3-D for "Shrek the Third" (which never was released) resulted in lessons learned for future productions. "It was interesting because during that project we learned that you can't use the same filmmaking process," he says. "(For instance), the shots can't be too close up, or the shots have to be longer sometimes."

"We also took a sequence out of 'Shrek 3' and tried to reconceive it from the start for 3-D," DWA production executive Phillippe Gluckman says about more recent efforts. "You really want to think about 3-D from the get-go."

The 3-D movement in cinema might also prompt innovation in other areas, like special venue attractions. As 3-D stereoscopic content has long been a component to some theme parks rides, the use of 3-D in theaters might challenge ride creators to further differentiate themselves.

"It forces theme parks to think about what else they can do," says effects pioneer Jeff Kleiser, whose visual effects innovations range from features to commercials to theme park attractions. "Those include (experiences) where the audience is moving on platforms in synchronization with a visual impression from the cinema.

"I think a lot of what we call 4-D effects become much more important," he adds. "By 4-D effects I mean some sort of physical gag that subjects the audience to water spraying on their faces or wind -- all sorts of physical effects that support the story. These sort of things can happen in theme parks and can't really happen very efficiently in movie theaters, and certainly not at home."

Meanwhile, the 3-D dialogue continues in larger circles. One emerging dilemma in centered on marketing as the opportunity to show 3-D trailers in front of 3-D movies is currently quite limited.

"The challenge is how do you show a trailer in 3-D in front of 2-D (content)," says Buzz Hays, senior visual effects producer, feature production, at Sony Pictures Imageworks. "There are a lot of internal discussions about how to make this happen."

Showing a trailer in 3-D, Hays points out, presents a logistical challenge. "It's essentially giving glasses out for three or four minutes of film materials," he says. "It's bit of a dilemma because we don't want to show a 2-D trailer for a 3-D movie (which is an alternative). That doesn't really make sense."

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

FIPS Level 3 Certification Recommended for Doremi Cinema's DCP-2000 Server

"Doremi Cinema announces that its DCP-2000 cinema server has been recommended by InfoGard Laboratories for a Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 3 validation certificate. DCP-2000 cinema servers built to FIPS standards will start shipping in the 3rd quarter, 2007.

FIPS Level 3 compliance provides the DCP-2000 with the highest level of protection required by the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) to secure the motion picture files used in the cinema server. Not resting on their laurels, Doremi Cinema's engineers took the opportunity to push the level of security beyond that mandated by FIPS specification.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued the FIPS 140 Publication Series to coordinate the requirements and standards for cryptography modules which include both hardware and software components. InfoGard Labs is an accredited Cryptographic Module Testing Laboratory under Lab Code 100432-0 of the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program. The official NIST validation process is expected to take six months.

Doremi Cinema's DCP-2000 is the most installed cinema server in the world with over 3300 screens worldwide. Doremi's continued leadership in installations both underscores the reliability and consistency of the DCP-2000 server to provide both the highest quality JPEG2000 images and the highest levels of security sought by the major studios to protect their content.

Doremi Cinema continues to add advanced features to the DCP-2000 to keep it comfortably ahead of the competition. Some of these features included 3D playback, CineLink II strong link encryption, and Thomson's NexGuard and Philips' CineFence forensic watermarking."


Kodak to Bring First “Universal” Theatre Management System To Europe

"Kodak is announcing the European availability of its first version of the Kodak Theatre Management System (TMS), to exhibition and distribution managers at the 2007 Cinema Expo International Convention and Trade Show in Amsterdam June 25 - 29.

The Kodak TMS will be the exhibition industry’s first ‘universal’ digital system designed to manage the full cinema presentation, linking functions that are currently separate and often labor intensive. The system offers the potential to bring new workflow efficiencies to the cinema.

The Kodak Theatre Management System includes a server driven by unique and proprietary Kodak-written software connected to the cinema’s ticketing system. Directed by the theatre’s ticketing system, the TMS is designed to automatically load digital features, trailers, other content, and decryption keys -- and distribute, store, stage, and play everything on the right screens at the right time, according to the show play-list.

First versions of the TMS automatically load and migrate decryption keys over the network; the system is expected to evolve rapidly with full functionality available in the next few months.

The Kodak TMS is at the heart of the fully-integrated Kodak solution, which includes networked content players and feature projectors, as well as Kodak service and support.

“In the past four years, we’ve gained extensive experience in the marketplace,” said Brian Kercher, general manager of Kodak Digital Cinema in Europe. “Currently, we have Kodak systems installed on 2100 screens in 200 sites in 8 countries. Nearly 100 of those systems are playing digital features on a regular basis and half of those are also playing 3D content. We’re working with 20 exhibition chains, connecting to 10 point-of-sale systems. We’re building all of that expertise into our new Theatre Management System.”

A key advantage of the new TMS is its ability to manage the full cinema presentation – pre-show as well as feature. It connects also to the theatre’s automation, so curtains, masking, lighting and other elements are adjusted automatically.

“Exhibitors have proven that a networked digital pre-show is an important new source of revenue,” said Kercher. “The pre-show will be able to operate on a separate network with separate components – or through the same content player and projector used for the feature. Either way, the TMS can manage it. This is a flexible solution.”

The Kodak Theatre Management System is now being tested in several countries. It will be available, worldwide, with full functionality, later this year."


Media Distributors to Demo Holographic Storage Solutions

Media Distributors, America's preeminent distributor of professional products and services for entertainment and enterprise, will present a First Ever Technology Showcase of Holographic Storage at the company’s Studio City headquarters starting at 4 PM on June 21st.

The Media Distributors presentation will showcase how today's holographic optical storage solutions can reshape recording and archiving. Working with its strategic partners In-Phase, DSM Terastore and PoINT Software, Media Distributors will debut a full live working demonstration of holographic storage, with added discussions involving its application process and innovations. The June 21 event will be the first and only demonstration of its kind in North America. Shipments of both holographic drives and recording media commence next month through Media Distributors.

What is Holographic Storage ?
Holography breaks through the density limits of conventional storage by going beyond recording only on the surface, to recording through the full depth of the medium. Its combination of speed, form factor, capacity and long archival life make it ideal for video asset management.

Much Higher Transfer Rates
Unlike other technologies that record one data bit at a time, holography records and reads over a million bits of data with a single flash of light. This enables transfer rates significantly higher than current optical storage devices.

A Wave of the Future - Now
High storage densities and fast transfer rates, combined with durable, reliable, low cost media, make holography poised to become a compelling choice for next-generation storage and content distribution needs – particularly video assets. In addition, the flexibility of the technology allows for the development of a wide variety of holographic storage products that range from handheld devices for consumers to storage products for the enterprise. Imagine having 50 hours of high definition video on a single disk, 50,000 songs on a postage stamp, or 500,000 x-rays on a credit card. Holographic storage makes it all possible.

Holographic Storage Benefits
- 300GB - 1.6TB Capacities / low media cost.
- 20MB/s-120 MB/s transfer rate and milliseconds data access time.
- Near-line access to hundreds of gigabytes of data; no need to restore data from tape; less expensive than raid solution.
- 50 year media archive life.
- Reduce data migration and skip a generation or two without worrying about media degradation.
- Prevent accidental or unauthorized changes to data; meets data authenticity requirements.
- Reduce expenses of temperature and humidity controlled environment.
- 4 levels of error correction, Write verification / robust data recovery.
- Standard SCSI, FC, Ethernet interfaces supported / easy integration into workflows.

For More Information About This Event :
Holographic Storage Showcase: June 21, 4-8 PM
Media Distributors
10960 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604
RSVP to: Scott 888-889-3130 or email: scott@mediadistributors.com


Ikegami and Toshiba Provide Details of Advanced New Tapeless ENG Camera, Editing and Production System

"Officially announced on the opening day of NAB 2007, Ikegami and Toshiba have formed a strategic joint-development partnership to develop and promote an advanced video production/editing system for broadcasters and video professionals. Key concepts and components of the new video production/editing system disclosed by the two companies include the use of semiconductor flash memory as the main storage medium.

The total system comprises the “GFCAM” Hybrid Tapeless Camera, “GFSTATION”, an entirely new central video management and recording system based on flash memory and “GFSTATION PORTABLE”, a portable version of GFSTATION. All image and sound data are recorded to “GFPAK”, a removable medium that can be used with all system components. The network connectivity of all system elements creates a highly efficient, highly productive tapeless environment.

Flash Memory Solution
The new system’s main removable storage medium, GFPAK, used with the GFCAM, GFSTATION, and GFSTATION PORTABLE, is based on semiconductor flash memory. Flash memory offers distinct advantages over optical disc-based and other solutions: with no moving parts, it is rugged, highly impact- and vibration-resistant, and maintenance is easier and much cheaper; it is also a long-life, semi-permanent medium, supporting rewrite cycles in the order of tens of thousands, another significant factor in reducing running costs. GFPAK also integrates proprietary technologies and enhanced error protection that protect data integrity, and supports high-speed random access that boosts working efficiency.

A single GFPAK can store up to 128 minutes of HD images, affording ample recording time when used in the field.

Depending on the application, an alternative hard disk-drive based memory pack is also available. Both the flash-based and HDD packs have the same profile and interface and are completely interchangeable in system components.

Meta Data and Proxy Data Solutions
As the GFCAM records high-resolution image data, it also simultaneously records proxy video and other meta data. Proxy video, a low-resolution MPEG 4 mirror of the high-resolution image and sound, has the same time code as the original, and can be quickly delivered over a network, or accessed on location, for initial viewing and to support scripting and editing. By recording INPUT/OUTPUT points set by a PC, replay of materials according to these points is easily done either on GFSTATION or GF STATION PORTABLE. Other meta data recorded during acquisition supports workflow efficiency by logging all key facts on the shoot—the date, location, program name, and equipment used.

Open Solutions
Every component of the system is built around open standards, including such codecs and formats as MPEG2 Long GOP/I-Frame and MXF. This approach supports broadcasters and production companies in making a gradual transition from existing systems to a new tapeless environment, and also facilitates interoperability with diverse third-party equipment and systems. Ikegami and Toshiba will draw on this open standard approach in forging partnerships with developers of non-linear editors."


IRIDAS Extends DualStream Stereoscopic Technology across Product Line

"IRIDAS, who introduced the first stereoscopic playback applications for uncompressed content in 2002, today announced availability of its DualStream stereoscopic technology as an optional module for all current FrameCycler products as well as SpeedGrade DI and SpeedGrade HD. Rather than having to purchase a separate application, FrameCycler artists can now include stereoscopic content within their regular review and approval workflow. The SpeedGrade applications are the world's first stereoscopic color correction systems.

DualStream works by automatically linking sequences. When one channel is loaded, DualStream adds the second channel - greatly simplifying conform from Edit Decision Lists. The multiple timeline capabilities of SpeedGrade and FrameCycler 2007, allow artists to easily manipulate and edit stereoscopic content. With the DualStream architecture, "channel drift" is impossible.

DualStream plays HD, 2K and higher resolution material, can support dual SDI-out, and works with every available 3D display technology, including shutter glasses, red/cyan glasses, dual projectors with polarized channels, or auto-stereoscopic displays."


Arts Alliance Media Opens Southern European Office

"Arts Alliance Media (AAM), Europe’s leading provider of digital distribution services, has announced the opening of a new office in Paris, which will be the headquarters of the company’s digital cinema operations for Southern Europe. The new office will cover territories including France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and will support AAM’s European-wide commercial digital cinema rollout.

Gwendal Auffret has been appointed to lead the operations of the new base. Auffret, who was previously CEO of Éclair Digital Cinema, will work with a team based in Paris to coordinate installation and operation of DCI-compliant digital cinema equipment in cinemas across Southern Europe, as well as negotiating with distributors and exhibitors across the region. The base will provide local support and expertise for AAM’s planned future growth and expansion of operations, following the expected agreement of Virtual Print Fee (VPF) deals with studios and exhibitors."


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Doremi Labs Introduces the DSV-J2 Player for 3D Stereoscopic, HD Video and 2k/4k Playback

"Doremi Labs introduces the DSV-J2 a HD video, 3D, stereoscopic, 2k and 4k playback device designed for large screen and special venue applications. The DSV-J2 supports playback of MPEG2 and JPEG2000 MXF files at resolutions up to 4k.

The DSV-J2 provides the latest digital playback technology for A/V installations that target a more immersive and unique experience for their audience. The DSV-J2 supports playback in High Definition (1920x1080), 2K (2048x1080) and optional 4K (4096x2160). 3D playback is supported in HD and 2K resolutions. Super widescreen playback (Stereoscopic) is achieved by sending a unique SDI stream to each of two projectors.

The DSV-J2 provides frame accurate LTC Time Code output to synchronize external equipment and up to 8 channels of high quality uncompressed audio (48 KHz, 24 bits) via balanced digital AES/EBU or optional analog audio.

The DSV-J2 features a front panel touch screen display, RAID5 storage and dual-redundant power supplies. Intuitive playlist software with file playback scheduling is included.

4K resolution playback is made possible by pairing the DSV-J2 with Doremi Labs’ MB-4k media block processor. The MB-4k outputs a 4k resolution (4096x2160) image via 8 dual-link HD-SDI or four DVI connectors."

Universal Pictures Inks with Sohonet

"Sohonet announced that it has signed a deal with Universal Pictures to provide the studio with a private global network that it can use for collaborating on its international marketing, production and distribution needs.

Universal reportedly plans to use this technology for distributing marketing materials, ads, film trailers and production work as well as film production, pushing feature films to vendors, trailer finishing, visual FX, international language versions, television commercial work, and trailer distribution.

Sohonet, a U.K.-based company whose North American headquarters are in Los Angeles, recently announced an agreement with Smartjog, a company that provides distribution and file transfer platforms that allows companies to move information via secure networks. The deal will allow SmartJog clients to benefit from Sohonet's high bandwidth network and solutions, while Sohonet clients will have access to SmartJog's global footprint and end-to-end applications."


Panasonic Ships 16GB P2 Card

"Panasonic announced the delivery of its new AJ-P2C016RG 16GB P2 card that doubles the storage capacity and recording time of its previous P2 solid-state memory card. Available at a suggested list price of $900, the reusable 16GB P2 card now offers P2 camcorders recording capacity comparable to, and often exceeding, tape and disc-based systems.

The new AJ-P2C016RG is a PCMCIA compatible plug-in card based on ultra-reliable, solid-state memory, integrating four high-performance SD cards like those now used in digital still cameras, and packaged in a rugged, die-cast frame that weighs only 0.099 lbs (45 grams). This convenient card has four times the capacity and four times the transfer speed of a single SD card. The P2 card is reusable, connects instantly with laptops and major non-linear editing systems, and eliminates the time-consuming task of digitizing. The re-usable P2 card is resistant to impact, vibration, shock, dust and environmental extremes including temperature changes. These PCMCIA-based cards are directly compatible with P2 decks, drives and the vast majority of laptop PCs, and can be easily connected to laptops using ExpressCard technology with simple, highly affordable third-party adapters.

The enhanced capacity 16GB P2 Card is compatible with all AG-HPX500 recorders and with AG-HVX200 camcorders with a serial number beginning with E7xxx0001. The 16GB P2 Card is also compatible with AJ-PCD20 drive beginning with the serial number E7xxx0001. Other P2 HD and P2 camcorders and products can be upgraded via a free, downloadable firmware upgrade.

Panasonic also announced that its 32GB P2 card would be available by year-end at a price of $1,800, effectively quadrupling the storage capacity of its previous P2 card."


Eclipse 3D Systems Announces a New Technology for 3D Movies

Eclipse 3D Systems, an innovator in stereoscopic 3D displays, announced a new patent pending technology for displaying 3D movies in theaters and homes. The Eclipse 3D technology promises to be less expensive and brighter than polarized projection which some theaters have used to show 3D movies. The new technology is applicable to digital projectors and flat panel displays opening the possibility of distributing high quality 3D through most of the major movie distribution channels including movie theaters, DVD sales and rental, and digital TV.

The Eclipse 3D technology combines a monochrome image with a full-color image to produce full-color 3D. The 3D images can be viewed with Eclipse colored filter glasses. The images can be projected on any white screen or surface. Since a silver screen is not needed, the Eclipse 3D format is less expensive and more portable than the polarized format.

Due to the properties of the human visual system, the monochrome image is perceived with a brightness gain of about four times while not contributing significantly to color vision. This process is similar to night vision. In contrast, the full-color image is perceived with normal brightness and color. Color perception comes almost entirely from the full-color image. The gain in brightness for the monochrome image means that little brightness is used in adding 3D to a display. As a result, Eclipse 3D images can be about four times brighter than polarized alternatives.

Eclipse 3D enabled displays use four primary colors to produce the monochrome and full-color images. The monochrome image is typically rendered with a yellow primary color while the full-color image is rendered with red, green, and blue primary colors. When not used for 3D, the extra yellow primary color can be used to widen the color gamut and brighten 2D images.

Eclipse 3D images do not cause the visual discomfort associated with conventional red/blue or red/cyan 3D images. "Red/Cyan images typically have unbalanced contrast in the left and right eye images which causes visual stress," says Dr. Monte Ramstad, developer of the Eclipse 3D format. "Our first step was to figure out how to remove the visual stress from red/cyan images. Then we added full-color."

Source: Eclipse 3D Systems

DTS Digital Cinema Premieres End-to-End Solution at Cinema Expo International 2007

"DTS Digital Cinema, an expert provider of premier-quality digital entertainment services for the motion picture industry, has announced its plans to premiere its end-to-end solutions at Cinema Expo 2007.

With a global footprint of 29,000 screens in over 100 countries, DTS Digital Cinema is uniquely positioned to provide tailored solutions for every digital cinema environment.

DTS Digital Cinema will present their new D-Cinema products, the DTS FilmStore and the DTS FilmStore Central, with accompanying DTS FilmStore Director, alongside current products, the DTS XD10 Cinema Media Player and the DTS XD10P Cinema Audio Processor. These will be managed by the DTS Theatre Management System incorporating the DTS Digital Booking System (DBS) and the DTS KeyPort."


Codex Digital Announces Portable Field Recorder

"Codex Digital, specialist in high-resolution media recording systems, is launching a new, high-resolution portable field recorder with the potential to revolutionise digital cinematography and the production of high-end broadcast TV and motion pictures.

No larger than a toaster, the Codex Portable’s cutting-edge design is packed with powerful, ground-breaking features, and the industry’s most advanced technology – creating brand new opportunities for single and multi-camera production. The Codex Portable can record from virtually every digital camera from HD to 4K. It is quick to deploy – on set, at a sports event or up a mountain – and takes production workflow to unprecedented levels.

The new system has been designed to meet industry demand for a compact and rugged field recorder. It complements the original, award-winning Codex HD, 2K, 4K media recorder/server, which has already redefined tapeless digital cinematography and is now being used on major studio productions in the US and Europe. Using visually-lossless compression, the Codex Portable brings cinema-quality disk-recording to every production where uncompressed recording is not an absolute demand, but total portability is.

Constructed from carbon fibre and with rubber-sealed connections, the Codex Portable is tough, weather-resistant, and weighs only 9 lb / 4 Kg. It is powered from standard camera batteries, and can be carried on an operator’s shoulder or back, or secured on camera equipment such as dollies and cranes. A large record button and illuminated status ring mean the Codex Portable is always ready-to-go, and near-silent operation lets it get right into the action.

Taking its key, unique features from its larger sibling, the Codex Portable adds immediate full-frame playback and review of footage on a daylight-readable touchscreen. Also unique is its secure wireless system, which enables instant shot monitoring, or remote-control of the system, from any networked computer or PDA. The Codex Portable even features a special “Mutter Track” microphone input, which allows the user to add comments during a take for shot-logging and notes.

Technical Features
The new Codex Portable is filled with unprecedented technical capabilities to pack all the benefits of the Codex tapeless workflow into its remarkably small package.

Top-line features include two dual-link HD 4:4:4 inputs, Infiniband and Ethernet data-connections, 10Gbps optical I/O, timecode and control ports, eight channels of audio, HD and SD monitoring of all formats up to 4K, and MP4 wireless video output.

The Codex Portable is the first portable disk-recorder to handle all formats up to 4K at cinema-quality, and the first to handle both video and data-mode cameras.

Flexible I/O configurations mean the Codex Portable can record from virtually every digital camera available today – including all HD cameras in video mode, plus data-mode from cameras such as the ARRI D-20 and DALSA’s Origin. It can also record Red Digital Cinema’s RED ONE camera in 4K data-mode, when it becomes available.

Recording is made to hot-swappable, shock-mounted RAID diskpacks that can hold up to three hours of continuous recording at the system’s highest quality – the first portable recorder (disk or tape) to offer such capability and capacity. The compression method used is JPEG2000, a wavelet-based industry standard, which is visually indistinguishable from the original and is comparable to the highest-quality mode of HDCAM-SR tape.

Stereoscopic 3D & Multi-camera shoots
The Codex Portable has the unique ability to record from two 4:4:4 cameras simultaneously – either independently for A and B cameras, or locked together for 3D stereoscopic acquisition. It is also the first to record from four 4:2:2 cameras simultaneously, and to allow the complete synchronisation of multiple recorders. With this feature, six synchronized Codex Portables can act as a 24-track video, 48-track audio-recorder – enough to record an entire concert or sports event at cinema-quality in a package no larger than a couple of tape decks.

The Codex Portable is the first portable recorder to provide multiple standard file-formats, for the seamless transfer of shots to all post-production workflows.

After recording, the Codex Portable’s diskpacks may be plugged directly into the matching Codex Transfer Station. This copies them (much faster than real-time), backs them up, and then delivers the material, plus the associated metadata, across local or worldwide networks.

In conjunction with the Transfer Station, the Codex Portable can deliver shots in all industry-standard formats, including DPX, BMP, BWAV, QuickTime, AVI and MXF files. It can even provide native-mode files that editing-systems can use with no importing at all.

The result is a clean, fast system in which the production moves completely seamlessly between shooting and post-production, on-set or off, with no intermediate steps or delays."


Digital Cinema is Wowing Theater Owners, Movie Fans

"Irish rockers U2 created a buzz at last month's Cannes Film Festival with a 55-minute preview of a high-tech concert movie, “U2 3D.” By pushing the technical limits of 3-D digital cinema, the film will showcase the strengths and weaknesses of cinema made without celluloid.

Producers plan to limit release of the final 90-minute version to theaters equipped with digital, 3-D projectors. Unlike animated 3-D movies such as “Chicken Little” and “Monster House,” “U2 3D” will show off the format's potential for live-action special effects.

A Reuters reporter at Cannes wrote that when U2 lead singer Bono reached toward the 3-D camera, it looked as if he were about to step off the screen into the theater.

The turbocharged music video will do more than demonstrate the technical prowess of digital cinema. It will introduce many consumers to a type of entertainment the industry calls ODS, or “other digital stuff.” The category includes anything other than movies – for example, sports or music – that might draw paying customers into a theater.

In recent months, two ODS projects have captured media attention.

On New Year's Eve, New York City's Metropolitan Opera broadcast the first of a series of live, high-definition performances, sending Mozart's “The Magic Flute” to theaters in several cities.

In February, the NBA's All-Star Game in Las Vegas featured the first sports event broadcast in live, high-definition 3-D. The game was sent over a high-speed network to two theaters at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.

“U2 3D,” which doesn't have a release date, will also underscore the downside of Hollywood's transition to digital: its glacial speed.

Only about 1,000 theaters worldwide are capable of screening a digital 3-D movie today, according to industry estimates. There

are more theaters capable of showing digital 2-D movies, but digital theaters are still a small percentage of theaters in this country and worldwide.

It's been nearly nine years since October 1998, when the industry released its first digital movie to theaters: the obscure “The Last Broadcast.”

Industry consortium Digital Cinema Initiatives is only now finalizing the digital-cinema standard and certification process intended to ensure that studios, distribution companies and hardware manufacturers have a common digital game plan.

Despite the slow transition, digital cinema has many fans. Proponents say it improves the moviegoing experience, whether it's a 3-D basketball game or “Rocky 17.”

Traditional film is prone to slight movements, up and down and left and right, as mechanical sprockets speed individual frames past the projector bulb. Dust and other objects leave scratches and dings on images after repeated showings.

Digital movies aren't subject to jittery movements and don't degrade, no matter how many times they're projected onto the big screen.

Digital cinema is expected to simplify theater operations. To show a traditional film movie on six screens, a theater owner would need six copies of the film. But one digital copy could run on all six screens.

Digital-cinema proponents include Vista-based Ultra Star Cinemas, which has digital projectors in all 102 of its theaters and side-by-side film projectors pointed at some of those screens.

The movie chain says digital films are far better, so it uses only its film projectors when a movie isn't released in digital.

“Why would we offer our customers chuck steak when we have filet mignon?” said Damon Rubio, Ultra Star operations vice president.

In recent months, roughly 90 percent of movies have been released in digital.

“Every summer blockbuster will be released in digital,” Rubio said. “About the only time we use the film projectors is around the Oscars. The art films from smaller studios are not always released in digital.”

While the digital transition has crawled through the past nine years, there are signs that things are picking up.

At the beginning of the year, there were about 2,500 digital theaters in the United States, said Andrew Stucker, director of Sony's digita-cinema division. By the end of the year, that number should double.

“Still, with about 39,000 theaters in the U.S., that's a small percentage,” Stucker said.

A number of forces will speed the transition, including 3-D, he said. With digital, it's easier to shoot and display 3-D movies, he added. And moviegoers are embracing 3-D movies.

“Movies shown in 3-D are bringing in from 30 to 50 percent higher box-office revenues,” Stucker said. “In 2007 and 2008, something like 18 major movies will be released in 3-D.”

Although film technology stays much the same year after year, digital technology continues to evolve. While some companies push a version of digital cinema roughly equivalent to today's HDTV, Sony and others are backing a technology known as 4K – four times the resolution of HDTV.

Capitalizing on the popularity of 3-D and the current interest in the latest “Spider-Man” sequel, Sony remastered the movie in 4K and showed it in 3-D in a handful of theaters around the world last month.

Stucker said films using the 4K technology will rival the visual appeal of such movies as “Lawrence of Arabia,” which was shot on 70-millimeter film, instead of the more economical 35-millimeter used today.

“We should see the first film shot in 4K within 12 to 18 months, max,” he said.

Longtime Hollywood film production company Technicolor sees digital cinema as the inevitable future, despite the slow start and competing technologies. The company's digital division provides a number of services, including testing of digital hardware and installing digital projection systems in theaters.

With the expectation of major cost-cutting and the potential to lure customers back into the seats with 3-D and alternative content, “it's mostly a question of when,” said Curt Behlmer, chief operating officer of Technicolor Digital Cinema.

With industry standards nearly complete, Behlmer sees 2008 as the year digital cinema takes off.

“Right now, nobody's making any money from digital cinema,” he said. “The studios still have to print a lot of film, along with the cost of producing digital versions. The exhibitors aren't making anything extra from digital.

“But when you put digital side by side with film, everyone agrees it's the future. Right now, everybody is investing in that future.”

By Jonathan Sidener, Union-Tribune

Forza Silicon Announces HD CMOS Imaging Technology

"Forza Silicon Corporation announced the availability of its proprietary FORZ-HD CMOS imaging technology, which supports frame rates up to 60 fps, proven at 33.2 Mega-pixel resolution, and features 12-bit on-chip ADCs. FORZ-HD technology is targeted for high resolution, high-speed, high dynamic range digital cameras used in professional photography or digital cinematography, and in medical, biotech, scientific, satellite and defense industries.

The FORZ-HD advantages over CCD image sensors include the integration of thousands of column-parallel ADCs on-chip with an LVDS or CML interface, and, of course, lower cost FORZ-HD imaging technology is used in CMOS image sensors fabricated by Forza foundry partner Tower Semiconductor using 0.18 micron process. FORZ-HD is compatible with CMOS Image Sensor processes used by Forza foundry partner IBM Microelectronics."


China Film Group Digitizing 2,000 Screens

"State-run moviemaking giant China Film Group Corp. plans to build about 2,000 digital cinemas in a new joint venture partnership with the country's leading steelmaker, Shougang Steel, company executives said Wednesday.

Dubbed China Film Group & Shougang Digital Cinema Building Co. Ltd., the joint venture, first unveiled to local media last week, believes the use of digital cinema technology will help stem some of China's rampant movie piracy problem.

Last year, about 93% of the discs sold in China were illegal copies, costing moviemakers upward of $2.6 billion in lost ticket sales, according to MPA estimates.

"The goal of our cooperation is to build digital cinemas across the country," Han Sanping, CFGC's board chairman told the official Xinhua news agency. "We will build about 2,000 new digital screens before the end of 2008."

Zhang Wenxi, Shougang's culture department chief, confirmed the China Film partnership in an interview but declined to offer financial details of the deal or detail how the joint venture plans to achieve its goal in a year when Beijing is set to host the Summer Olympics.

A ban on construction in the capital is expected to go into effect before the games begin on Aug. 8, 2008.

China now has about 3,000 modern movie screens, only 124 of which were digital in 2005, according to a recent report from the Nielsen Co. and Screen Digest. The number of digital screens in China rose from just 93 in 2004, with growth led by China Film, with 91 digital screens, and Stellar Film, with 27.

China Film's digital screens account for roughly half of their total 180 screens, a total that makes it the second-largest distributor in the country after Shanghai United Cinema Circuit, the report said.

Both groups began installing digital cinema systems in 2002 once the government's plan to encourage digital cinema began to take shape.

CFGC released 39 digital films in 2006, earning 120 million yuan ($15.38 million) at the boxoffice, company data shows.

In June 2006, China Film signed an exclusive 30-year deal with Archer Entertainment Media Communications to digitize screens across China, the Nielsen report said. As part of the deal, Archer gained rights to redevelop cinema venues and to control all aspects of digital production, distribution and exhibition.

In November, Warner Bros. International Cinema pulled out of China after four years when new government rules limited the company to holding a minority share in the theaters they were building.

It was not clear how the China Film deal with Archer will relate to the new partnership with Shougang, which, according to general manager Wang Qinghai, is expanding into electronics, architecture, shipping, finance, media and culture, Xinhua reported.

The China Film-Shougang deal is not the first pairing of unlikely partners in China's burgeoning media and culture business.

Last week at the Festival de Cannes, JA Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of alternative energy firm the Jian Group, said it will begin shooting its first five feature films this summer (HR 5/20)."

By Jonathan Landreth, The Hollywood Reporter

Kuwait on the Cusp of a D-cinema Revolution

"Kuwait is set to become the first country in the world to boast an all-digital cinema (D-cinema) network, under an auspicious plan by the country's dominant cinema chain, Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC).

KNCC, which operates the Cinescape chain in Kuwait, recently contracted Indian company Real Image Media Technologies (RIMT) to develop a pilot D-cinema project installed in its flagship Kuwait City cinema multiplex. The project involved the installation of Real Image's Qube high definition XP-D DCI compliant digital cinema server and a Cinemeccanica 2K digital projector.

The installation surpasses the 2K quality standard agreed upon by the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI), a US-based industry lobby group whose members include the major Hollywood film studios.

KNCC plans to digitise 40 existing cinema screens and establish a further 50 digital theatres across Kuwait over the next 12 months. RMIT director Senthil Kumar said the 1Tb XP-D server provided storage capacity for up to five 2K-standard digital films, providing KNCC with increased flexibility in terms of film session scheduling.

"The Middle East is a unique market in that cinema chains have to feature a mix of Arabic, Western and Bollywood films to cater to the demands of the region's multicultural population," he said.

"Digital cinema is a great technology for markets such as the Middle East where cost is a primary consideration. Film prints cost around US$2000 to produce, which is expensive, when you consider digital copies are around one-tenth this amount."

Kumar predicted the growth of D-cinema in the Middle East would ultimately encourage greater digital film production across the region.

"High-quality 2K and 4K cameras are becoming more accessible price-wise which should encourage filmmakers to increase their output," he claimed. "Already, all of the Hollywood Studios have committed to producing their films for digital distribution under the terms of the DCI agreement, and in India we are also producing the bulk of our films for digital distribution.

"The DCI standard is very forward-looking. At 2K, it's actually beyond high-definition image quality."

However, while many Western cinema chains had embraced digital film delivery platforms such as the internet and satellite distribution technology, Kumar said that given Kuwait's relatively small geographical footprint, establishing a data network was not a major priority. "It's actually more cost-effective for KNCC to manually distribute the films to cinemas across the country on USB drives," he said.

KNCC does plan to introduce D-cinema projection technology to other countries across the GCC region as part of its regional expansion strategy, starting with the UAE and Oman later this year.

Kumar also confirmed that RIMT and KNCC planned to establish a mastering facility in Dubai, which would provide digital mastering services to filmmakers based across the region.

"We are currently assessing a number of options in terms of a location for the facility," he said. "Our preference is the Dubai Studio City precinct.

"We expect to attract many clients from across the Middle East looking to showcase their films in a D-cinema environment."

by Aaron Greenwood, Arabian Business

SmartJog and Sohonet Team-Up To Create State Of The Art Network Solutions for the Entertainment Industry

"Sohonet and SmartJog, two of the most established and trusted companies in the fast-growing world of digital distribution for the entertainment industry, have entered into a strategic commercial relationship. The newly formed partnership brings the services and expertise of both companies together to create the largest international network in the media and entertainment industry, with more than 600 locations serviced in 65 countries worldwide.

The relationship will enable existing and future SmartJog clients to benefit from Sohonet’s high bandwidth network and solutions, while existing and future Sohonet clients will have access to SmartJog’s global footprint and end to end applications.

Additionally, the relationship substantially broadens the global community served by both companies, bringing Sohonet a stronger presence in Continental Europe and North America, and SmartJog an increased presence in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

About SmartJog
SmartJog provides a global distribution and file transfer platform to facilitate the entertainment industry’s transition to digital formats by replacing physical logistics with electronic intermediation via a secured network. SmartJog’s network continues to grow with over 3,000 members globally in broadcasting, post-production, motion picture and TV distribution. With offices in Paris and LA, SmartJog ensures 24/7 supervision and integrity of service. SmartJog was created in 2002 and is a subsidiary of TDF, a leading operator and provider of audiovisual, new media and broadband services to Radio, TV and telecom operators based in Paris.

About Sohonet
Sohonet is the first and largest high bandwidth connector for the global entertainment industry, providing a fast and advanced digital media network that links a range of companies within the film, broadcast, advertising and multimedia industries. As Experts on high speed secure bandwidth, with a global networking service spanning three continents, Sohonet is the pre-eminent resource for end-to-end consultation on all matters of connectivity.

Along with the transmission of vast amounts of data, audio and moving imagery, Sohonet also provides fast and flexible Internet access, e-mail and fully managed security solutions. The world's leading production studios, post-production houses and advertising agencies rely on Sohonet’s experience, professionalism and security for their digital media networking needs. Recent projects handled by Sohonet include ”Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Batman Begins,” “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory,” HBO’s series, “ROME,” and “Superman Returns.” Sohonet is an independently owned company with offices in London, Los Angeles and Sydney. Sohonet is the world’s surest path for transferring digital content."

High Definition Video Pushes Broadband Boundaries

"From July the ABC broadband player will feature full-length episodes of popular series Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty in 1280x720 resolution. More high-definition programming will follow with the new season in September.

While downloading high-definition video files from the web is nothing new, streaming video online at this quality presents much more of a technical challenge.

Earlier this year, ABC began using a new streaming system from Move Networks which is designed to offer an improved viewing experience. The same system will be used for high-definition programming.

The Move Networks system uses the same On2 Technologies video compression scheme as the Flash format previously used by ABC. It requires a small player application to be downloaded. The player automatically upshifts and downshifts stream quality based on network conditions but aims to avoid buffering delays.

Video is streamed at an adaptive rate from standard web servers, rather than specialized media servers, using the same HTTP protocol employed for standard web pages.

The video stream is broken up into short fragments using a patent pending protocol and approach Move Networks calls Quantum Streaming which aims to avoid the negative effects of internet congestion and packet loss.

ABC is mainly offering pre-recorded episodic programming, but Move Networks also supports live streaming. The player allows viewers to pause live broadcasts, rewind and review, rather like a personal video recorder. Viewers can also join an ongoing live broadcast and optionally begin viewing form the beginning of a programme.

The segmented nature of the video also potentially allows users to make playlists that play back seamlessly, insert extracts in web pages, or share clips with other users, rights permitting. The Move Networks solution provides support for digital rights management for content security.

Streaming samples seen by informitv at rates between 0.8 and 2Mbps are certainly very impressive, even on a wireless network on the other side of the world. While technically high-definition resolution, the quality of the video is unlikely to be comparable to high-definition on satellite, terrestrial or cable television.

The ABC site is already streaming at up to 1.5Mbps, so the move to high definition format is an incremental step in quality.

Nevertheless, the move to high-definition format raises the bar for broadband video. It marks a watershed in the quality of experience that can be delivered in online video.

Move Networks is based in Utah. Earlier this year it secured $11 million in venture capital funding led by Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and including Steamboat Ventures, the venture-capital arm of Disney.

Its software is also used by Fox and The CW network and says it is in discussions with all the major networks about its technology.

John Edwards, the chief executive of Move Networks was a former executive of companies including Novell. Many of the executive team started out as graduates of Brigham Young University founded and funded by the Mormon Church in Utah."


ColorCode 3-D

"ColorCode 3-D is a patented Danish state-of-the-art 3-D Stereo system. It is the only in the world to reproduce 3-dimensional images in a simple way with full color- and depth information on all display media including analogue film.

The ColorCodeViewer (ColorCode 3-D Glasses) are equipped with special amber and blue filters.
Note: ColorCode 3-D is not a yellow-blue Anaglyph. All Anaglyph types are in any aspect surpassed by ColorCode 3-D.

The ColorCodeViewer (ColorCode 3-D Glasses) are manufactured exclusively by American Paper Optics and are available in standard, stock printed frames or can be ordered in customized design and printing.

ColorCode 3-D delivers the most powerful visual experience you can get and takes you to the leading edge of presentation with full attention from your audience. ColorCode 3-D works with the same glasses or viewers for all display media. Further a ColorCode 3-D image looks almost like an ordinary image when viewed without glasses or a viewer. The patented ColorCode 3-D system consists of two parts: the ColorCode CX Pro encoding and the ColorCodeViewer. This is a matched pair, developed to deliver the ultimate quality. Let your next 3-D project benefit from this cost effective and professional solution.

ColorCode 3-D works with all display types, of good quality, such as CRT, LCD and Plasma, and digital projectors such as LCD, DLP and LCOS. For projection you only need a single projector and a white standard screen. The only accessory you need is a ColorCodeViewer (ColorCode 3-D glasses)."


Hollywood's New 3-D Age

"Moviegoers are getting a better 3-D experience thanks to the rise of digital cinema, in which film is replaced with data that's stored on hard drives and tapes. New kinds of 3-D equipment are being integrated into digital projectors and giving rise to a new generation of 3-D movies.

The basic idea behind today's 3-D movies is the same as it was in the early 1900s, says Matt Cowan, chief scientific officer at RealD, a company based in Beverley Hills, CA, that makes 3-D movie technology. Essentially, two versions of a film taken at slightly different angles are projected at once: one for the right eye and one for the left eye.

The earliest 3-D movies used a method called anaglyph in which one version of the film is dyed red and the other is dyed blue. The function of the red- and blue-tinted lenses is to filter the appropriate version for each eye.

Today's 3-D technologies separate the left- and right-eye content in different ways. RealD's system uses special lenses on the movie projector that polarize the light it emits, essentially adjusting the orientation of the light waves differently for the left and right eyes. The light from the projector is reflected off a special screen at the front of the theater that's coated with a silvery paint to maintain the polarization of light. The audience members wear polarizing glasses to filter out the light for each eye. Despite the glasses, some images in a 3-D movie are inadvertently seen by both eyes--an effect called ghosting. RealD uses special digital processing software to try to compensate for images that are likely to ghost.

A second type of technology relies on shutter glasses, which are synchronized with the flicker of left-eye and right-eye images that are projected onto a traditional movie screen. For this technology, the projector sends right-eye images to the screen half the time, and left-eye images the other half. It also sends out an infrared signal, detected by the shutter glasses, which keeps the glasses in sync with the images. These glasses are more effective at minimizing ghosting than other 3-D systems are, says Howard Lukk, vice president of technology at Walt Disney Studios, in Burbank, CA. However, because shutter glasses use optoelectronics and batteries, he says, they cost significantly more than polarizing glasses do. And since they cost more--around $50 a pair--they are usually collected at the end of a movie and sanitized for future use, which requires personnel and other expenses.

The third type of system is being developed by Dolby, the technology company that created the surround-sound system found in many theaters. Dolby's system uses a technology licensed from Infitec, a company based in Ulm, Germany. A color wheel inside the digital projector divides the red, blue, and green bundles of light, explains Dave Schnuelle, Dolby's director of image technology. The colors are divided so that the shorter wavelengths that correspond to red, blue, and green are sent to one eye, and the longer wavelengths that correspond to those colors are sent to the other eye. Audience members wear glasses that filter out the colors for each eye but don't alter the perceived color of the film as anaglyph glasses do. While the system does not require a painted screen, as RealD's system does, the glasses are currently expensive to produce, says Schnuelle, because they are still in development.

Each approach has its drawbacks and benefits. "The beauty of [Dolby's system] is that it can use a standard screen," says Lukk. "Some people find issues with the silver screen." One of the main challenges is to ensure that the light reflects evenly across the screen's surface so that even viewers near the aisle seats get a good view. But, Lukk adds, polarizing systems are attractive to many because the glasses cost so little and, unlike shutter glasses, don't have any electronics in them, hence don't require special maintenance."

By Kate Greene, Technology Review

RAAM Digital Cinema Conference

The RAAM Digital Cinema conference is being held at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts - BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly at 9.30am on Thursday June 21, 2007.

4K Window to Future at L.A.'s New Landmark

"The debut of Landmark Theatres' new flagship complex called the Landmark, which opens Friday at Los Angeles' Westside Pavilion, prompts a closer examination of 4K resolution digital cinema, which represents four times the picture information found in today's commonly used 2K digital cinema resolution.

The Landmark opens with three theaters equipped with Sony's SXRD 4K digital cinema projectors. These -- and one at the Landmark-owned NuArt -- represent the only screens in Los Angeles that offer 4K projection for paying audiences.

Landmark already has ordered about 25 4K projectors from Sony, which is the only manufacturer offering 4K digital cinema projectors to theater owners. In addition to Los Angeles, there are installations in Landmark theaters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. Plans are to also install 4K technology in Baltimore and Denver.

The 4K dialogue in the film community extends well beyond projection, including production, post and mastering.

Landmark Theatres -- part of the Wagner/Cuban Cos. co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban that includes Magnolia Pictures, Magnolia Home Entertainment, HDNet Films, 2929 Prods., HDNet and HDNet Movies -- is looking at the bigger picture. Cuban said he selected 4K projection technology "because cameras were being developed that did 4K and we wanted to be ready for them.

"4K to 4K is the best quality available," he said.

Of course, this requires a steady flow of 4K content. Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures have created select 4K deliverables, but today's digital cinema content is typically available in 2K.

"(4K content) is being developed as we speak," Cuban said. "HDNet plans on actively using 4K for productions and for distribution of content beyond just 4K theatrical." He said that some of the upcoming films he is producing would be mastering and distributed in 4K, though he declined to reveal details.

Citing the aforementioned 4K content from Sony and Warners, Andrew Stucker, director of Sony's digital cinema systems unit, said: "It's still an expensive proposition. While 4K is coming, we expect the majority of the content will be 2K."

Stucker predicted that this would be the case for at least another year. "There needs to be a healthy number of 4K projectors out there. We hope to take care of that over the next year," he said.

Pointing to the added cost of 4K rendering and digital intermediate work, Stucker added: "There is a dollar difference. As those costs come down in the next 12-18 months, we hope to see 4K Digital Cinema Packages going out the door."

It appears that initially, Landmark theatergoers will get a look at 4K imagery through select trailers as well as clips of 4K content that will be supplied by Sony as preshow content. "The idea is to give audiences the visual concept of what 4K will mean for them when it finally does get going," Stucker said.

The Landmark opens with a total of 12 auditoriums, three with 4K projection, three with Panasonic 2K digital cinema projectors and all 12 with film projectors. Dolby Digital EX Surround Sound and Klipsch speakers will create the audio experiences. Digital cinema deliverables would be received via hard drives on files, though Jason Hudak, vp technology at Landmark Theatres, said the company is looking into broadband delivery options."

By Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter