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The entire digital cinema workflow

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 13 December, 2006  (Technical Article)
The film industry and cinema operators are pinning their hopes on a new technology: Digital Cinema. Movies will then be stored digitally instead of using sensitive 35 millimeter films. The challenge and the big advantage for the movie theaters is that Digital Cinema is to distinguish itself clearly from television by offering exceptionally high quality.
In order to achieve this, however, the entire cinema workflow must be digitized. Here the Fraunhofer Digital Cinema Network provides solutions and systems.

Camera is running!
Engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in cooperation with ARRI Cine Technik, a manufacturer of film equipment, are developing and testing the ARRI D-20, a digital filmstyle camera. The D-20 is the first step in the digital production process. “The camera has a high resolution, natural color reproduction and a variable frame rate, which is particularly important for time lapse shooting” explains Hans Bloss, who heads the Fraunhofer Digital Cinema Network. The D-20 has a similar depth of field to conventional cameras, producing the typical “film look”. The CMOS sensor (CMOS = complementary metal oxide semiconductor) used in the camera even has the same image dimensions as 35 millimeter film. This has the advantage that the cameramen can continue to use high quality lenses from conventional cameras. The operation of the D-20 also has other similarities to an analog camera. It is equipped with an optical viewfinder so the cameraman can see what he is filming in the usual way. The sensor has a resolution of six megapixels.

The digital images are recorded onto a mobile storage device. The Megacine can record moving pictures in the new Digital Cinema Format, in High Definition or Standard Definition. It has a capacity of 1 terabyte (1 terabyte = 1.000 000 megabytes), which means that it can record up to 45 minutes of uncompressed DC quality material. Megacine supports the ARRI D-20 Data Mode (2880*2160 pixels), too. A particular advantage of the digital storage device which the Fraunhofer IIS researchers have developed is that the recorded material on the Megacine can be played back to allow the director to look at the pictures whilst still on set. The sound can be heard through an integrated stereo output.

Roll Sound!
A movie doesn’t come to life through vivid pictures alone, but also through exceptional sound quality. In the meantime, Dolby-Digital provides good quality surround-sound in almost all cinemas. However, the disadvantage with this technology is that only moviegoers in certain seats can enjoy an optimal audio experience. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT got around this problem by using Wave Field Synthesis technology to project the optimum sound to each person in the cinema audience. The IOSONO system generates a perfect and natural spatial effect. Under the title “Spatial Sound Solutions” researchers of the Fraunhofer IDMT will be present hard and software for recording and playback using this effect at IBC.
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