EDCF Group

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EDCF Group
DIGITAL EDCF GROUP
EDCF Group
... meet in new Sony preview theatre
M
embers of the Technical Support Group of the European
Digital Cinema Forum travelled
from all parts of Europe to attend a meeting, chaired by Peter Wilson, in
January. This was held at Sony’s Basingstoke
HQ, and we were privileged to be the first to
use their newly refurbished and magnificently
equipped 4K viewing theatre. “The paint was
only just dry”, joked Josh Honda, Strategic
Marketing Manager Digital Cinema at Sony,
and host for the day.
The room, which was previously known
as ‘The Studio’, and which will act as both
a training and viewing facility, has been
equipped with very comfortable raked
cinema seating, and there is also a sizeable
floor area in front of the large cinema screen
which can be used for conference tables
when required, or, as on our visit, for luxurious leather ‘bean-bag’ seating, which some
of the group were persuaded to try. The new
layout, together with the spacious projection
room and massive projection windows will
make this an excellent viewing theatre for
4K showings and quality control tests and
comparisons. Josh said that they are intending
to install projectors from competitors so as to
able to carry out ‘shootouts’ shortly - should
be interesting!
Peter Wilson went through the minutes of
the previous meeting and the group discussed the latest news of what is happening
in various parts of Europe. Norway is ahead
of the game and should be completely digital
by the end of this year, a live 3D opera had
been streamed to one cinema by fibre, and
there are ideas and plans for DCPs to be
distributed to cinemas via a fibre network.
The biggest UK cinema groups are also likely
to have completed their digitisation plans by
the end of 2011. Arts Alliance Media are currently supporting some 900 screens and XDC
support around 1000 screens across Europe.
Left: A small part of the huge assembly area. Right: Exterior of the 3D OB truck under construction
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cinema technology • march 2011 • www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
Equipment identification
There was an open discussion about the
working of Facility ID and Trusted devices
lists. It was generally agreed that these are
working fine for content delivery and KDMs,
and that the industry is ‘getting by’ at the moment, but in the longer term there is a need
for a better way. It is currently quite a challenge to collect accurate information about
equipment in the first place and then to cope
with changes and keep the data up to date.
Members agreed that there is a need for
some sort of central database or organisation
to be set up, and that eventually there should
be an automated system where changes in
equipment are automatically logged into
the database. ISDCF are currently discussing
how server changes can best be dealt with,
and questions were raised about what feature
information can be transmitted back from a
server. It was agreed that there is a need for a
common facility identifier. Suggestions were
Frame rates
should, with appropriate upgrade software,
be able to cope with all the proposed frame
rates. For 3D the DLP® systems would probably need only dual-flash for 30fps systems.
TI are promising that future projectors will
support 60fps at 4K - 60fps ‘per eye’ at 2K
for 3D. This led to a wider discussion of 3D
frame rates, and an intriguing (although as
yet unproven) suggestion that ‘triple flash
may be more necessary on silver screens’.
The Sony team were asked about the frame
rate capabilities of Sony 4K projectors, and
promised to send the information to the
EDCF group. Details were given of the FIAF
work on frame rates for archival material silent movies could have frame rates between
15 and 26fps, and these could change during
a showing. It had been found that viewers
can cope with a 1fps error for most showings. After some discussion it was agreed that
the EDCF TSG would ‘poll’ all server and
manufacturers to see what frame rates their
equipment currently supports and what they
expect in the future.
Kommer Kleijn brought the group up to date
with the progress of the standardisation work
on additional frame rates for digital cinema
being carried out by SMPTE and ISO. He
confirmed that all TI based DC projectors
3D systems brightness efficiency
Having been responsible for the compilation of the EDCF guide to 3D digital cinema,
Peter Wilson explained the difficulties that
had arisen in getting manufacturers to agree
made that the existing REST (Representational
State Transfer) architecture, initially designed
for HTTP but not limited to that, might be
one method of providing a standardised interface to capture the current state of a digital
cinema server.
Subtitling
The packaging of subtitles and the practical problems that originators and exhibitors
are currently finding was discussed in some
detail, with numerous accounts of when subtitles hadn’t behaved properly due to a wide
range of causes, from non-matching character
sets to fonts without UUIDs, and we were
reminded that a single small error in a subtitle
stream could cause some projection equipment to refuse to show any subtitles at all.
There were questions and discussions about
the best way of dealing with 3D subtitles, and
a well known cinematographer in the audience said that there would be no such thing
as 3D subtitles if he had his way!
No shortage of cables in the 3D OB truck
on the figures for the brightness efficiency
of their various 3D systems. He said that the
ISDCF is working with manufacturers to try to
agree methods of measuring this parameter.
‘Live’ cinema
Peter also explained the work in the UK that
the DTG ‘Live Cinema’ group is doing to
provide technical and operational guidelines
to the different parts of the industry to ensure
the successful relay of live events to multiple
exhibition venues.
Predicting the digital cinema future
D-Cinema guru Charles Flynn gave an
interesting and stimulating presentation on
www.cinematechnologymagazine.com • cinema technology • march 2011
25
moderately priced cameras based on ‘super
35’ sized imagers that would make high quality ‘filming’ more affordable than ever before.
Ian Davis with a small group of EDCF members some familiar faces there!
the future of the Digital Cinema business in
Europe, reminding us of the need to continuously ‘pay attention to what is happening’,
which gave rise to numerous comments and
feedback from the audience. He told an
interesting tale of how US cinema owners
had initially been resistant, apparently on cost
grounds, to demands for compulsory subtitles
and audio description. The presentation will
be made available on the EDCF website.
Sony 3D Training - New Products - Live production
Ann-Marie Hiscox, Sony Training Manager,
spoke about the company’s 3D training
courses, which cover everything from basic
3D optical principles, through cinematography to display. In her presentation she
reminded us of the stop-start history of 3D
but felt that 3D cinema is here to stay this
time because we have both the necessary
technology and a good understanding of 3D
production techniques.
After an introduction from Josh Honda, who
made the point that Sony had deliberately
chosen not to focus on showing us 4K cinema
images that day, since we had all seen them
before and that the recent rollouts to major
cinema chains had meant that 4K was fast
becoming the norm, Peter Sykes, Senior
Product Manager, gave us an inside look at
the new cameras to be revealed in the next
few months, including a new generation of
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D-Cinema Software Specialist Chris Mullins explained the Sony Theatre Management System in detail, taking us through
the workflow system and the show-building
process, making up a special ‘EDCF Show’ as
we watched. He stressed that the Sony TMS
is not exclusively for use with Sony projection
systems, but works equally well with other
makes of kit.
Live Production Project Manager Ian Davis
talked to us about 3D for Live Production
and the art of building Outside Broadcast
trucks. He proudly told us that the Sony
Basingstoke plant had built some 200 trucks
since 1980 and that they had built 17 trucks
last year, including two of the world’s firstever 3D vans that were deployed at the FIFA
World Cup in South Africa.
The EDCF exists to discuss key issues
surrounding European Digital Cinema
and to provide a common understanding across all European territories of
the business and technical matters
of digital cinema. EDCF is open to all
those involved in the chain from film
production through distribution to
exhibition, as well as film institutes,
national administrations, the European
Commission, trade associations etc. For
details of how to join, contact General
Secretary, John Graham email:
[email protected]
Touring the factory
We were then split into smaller groups and
allowed through the high-security electronic
gates into the huge manufacturing and assembly area, where we saw Sony digital
cinema Theatre Management System server
racks being assembled and wired, before
being walked through a huge 3D OB truck
that was currently being built to a customer’s
specification. For those of us with experience
of previous generations of OB trucks it was a
revelation to see how much space the clever
design has made available - I have been
in smaller ‘master control’ areas in proper
studios! It was good to talk with Ian about the
way in which the necessary 3D production
and monitoring equipment has been carefully
fitted in, and to learn about the key role that
the ‘Stereographer’ plays in constantly ensuring that the images from the 3D cameras
are kept within the parameters necessary not
only to ensure that the 3D viewer doesn’t
get a headache, but also to see that cuts
from shot to shot do not cause unnatural and
disturbing effects. Being able to see the truck
cinema technology • march 2011 • www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
under construction provided an important
reminder of the miles of cabling required to
ensure that all the dozens of monitors, the
numerous equipment racks and the cameras
and recorders can play their part in the production of a first class 3D OB.
Back to the meeting
When we re-assembled after the tours,
Peter thanked all those involved for arranging such an interesting day and allowing the
group to meet in such an excellent venue.
He reminded the members that the traditional ShoWest exhibition would this year be
replaced by CinemaCon, under the auspices
of NATO, from March 28 -31st, and asked
those who would like a studio tour to make
their views known to the EDCF secretariat as
soon as possible.
Thanks to Josh Honda and the other Sony
staff for providing the EDCF Technical Support Group not only with an excellent venue,
but with a packed, fact-filled day.
Jim Slater