[Tig] Digital cinema

Dick Hobbs dick
Fri Jan 11 08:32:30 GMT 2002

As far as I am aware, there are still only the 32 "beta site" digital
cinemas in operation around the world at present. A year or so ago
Technicolor and Qualcomm announced a joint venture to convert 1000 more
digital screens in the US, but I have not heard of any progress on this

Technically, there is a de facto standard at present, using TI DMD projector
technology and QuVis wavelet compression and servers. However, other
technologies are knocking on the doors, including an MPEG-based compression
and server system from Grass Valley Group (soon to be part of Thomson,
which, incidentally, owns Technicolor), and the D-ILA projector from JVC.
The benefit of D-ILA is that it can already do true 2k projection, whereas
the TI projector has only reached 1280 pixels per line so far.

Will there be work for telecine? Yes, but it will be different. For many
movies, the original footage will be transferred to data and posted
digitally. This gives the colorist a very creative role, working with the
original director to create the look of the film in every incarnation, not
just the video.

Movies which are posted conventionally will need telecine for the digital
cinema version, as well as video.

On the other hand, there will probably be a move to produce a master digital
version of a movie, from which film prints, d-cinema files, HD and standard
definition video releases will all be drawn, simply by entering the output
resolution and passing the colour gamut through a look-up table. So no more
days spent working on different versions of a film.

Animation studios like Disney are moving over to electronic production, with
no more human trace and paint. However, the raw output of the animation
systems seems to need quite a lot of work to create a satisfying colour
balance, so there is work for colorists here, too.

Dick Hobbs

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