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Fraunhofer goes to Hollywood with new age digital cinema

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 23 May, 2006  (Company News)
Hollywood is ringing in the new age of digital cinema. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS is one of the research groups involved in the introduction of the new technology. Under a cooperation agreement with the Digital Cinema Initiatives DCI, a consortium of the major Hollywood studios, the Fraunhofer IIS is developing test procedures for the certification of digital projectors, servers and other hardware for the digital cinema of the future.
Before long, movies will be shot, stored, processed, distributed and projected in digital format. This benefits the movie-goer, who can look forward to images of unprecedented clarity and sharpness. Many film-makers are already using computers to edit their films or even construct entire animated sequences. Digital cinema is now moving into the second phase in which films are also distributed digitally. The DCI published its system requirements and specifications for digital cinema last year. But how do you tell which projectors and equipment meet the specified requirements? And are the various technical components compatible with one another? The joint DCI/IIS project intends to answer these questions.

'As the transition from conventional 35mm film to digital projection systems continues, many industry entities and manufacturers have been anticipating a DCI supported methodology to provide certification for DCI compliant components' the DCI member studios jointly declared, 'the Fraunhofer IIS is a world-respected entity with demonstrated imaging and technology expertise that will develop these robust and comprehensive test procedures.'

Definition of the test procedures is expected to take about four months. This will be followed by a three-month test and evaluation phase to validate the results. Once this work has been satisfactorily concluded, the procedures and reference data will be made available to the equipment manufacturers, who will then be able to test whether their products conform to the DCI specifications. The definition of a uniform set of test procedures also makes it possible to ensure compatibility between different components of a movie-theater installation. This is an important consideration, allowing films to be screened in any cinema anywhere in the world, be it in the USA, Europe, Asia or Africa - as has always been the case for 35-mm film. International standards are needed to ensure that this advantage is not lost in the age of digital cinema. As before, films can be distributed to any place in the world, and cinema-goers everywhere will be able to enjoy the experience of watching superior-quality digital images.

'We are proud to be collaborating with the DCI on a project of such wide impact. The DCI specifications represent an important milestone in the digital distribution and projection of movies,' comments Siegfried Foessel, head of Digital Cinema projects at the IIS. But movie-goers will have to remain patient a little longer. Digital presentations are already being shown here and there, but it will take a while to get a standardized digital format up and running.
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