Tag Archives: 4K

YouTube Announces Support Of 4K Video

YouTube LogoOn July 9th the ongoing debate between 2K and 4K digital cinema picture resolution took an interesting turn when an unexpected player entered the fray. At VidCon 2010, a conference for online video professionals, came to a close, YouTube announced that they would begin supporting and streaming videos shot in 4K. (And you thought the popular website was only good for short clips of cats riding vacuum cleaners).

Okay granted, this news doesn’t really advance the discussion of digital cinema so much as it raises the awareness of projected image resolution to many industry outsiders who had never given it much thought before. YouTube’s blog post announcing the support of 4K is a perfect example of how the topic is being discussed by the public at large:

To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.

It was only in December of 2009 that YouTube announced they would allow for 1080p video content to be uploaded and streamed. Less then a year later they are increasing the resolution of the videos they’ll accept by four times to 4096 x 2304 pixels. As a comparison, Sony’s SRX-R320 digital cinema projector has a native resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels.

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Sony Expands In Europe With National Amusements, AMC, And Dealer Partnerships

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

If Sony wanted to make a big splash at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam this past week then they did one heck of a job. On Tuesday, the second day of the conference, Sony announced two exhibitor agreements with National Amusements and AMC Entertainment’s United Kingdom based theatres for digital conversions. The company, known for its 4K digital cinema solution, also struck up partnerships with three European digital cinema dealers.

National Amusements
The biggest of these announcements had to be the news that National Amusements had chosen Sony as their integrator. The theatre chainis one of the largest in the world, operating 950 screens across venues in the U.K., United States and Latin America. National Amusements is the fifth largest theatre chain in North America.

Under their existing virtual print fee (VPF) agreements with Hollywood studios, Sony will install their 4K digital cinema projectors on all of National Amusements’ screens. They will start immediately with Showcase Cinemas, National Amusements’ U.K. theatre chain where Sony Digital Cinema 4K systems will be deployed on all 276 screens. In an effort to quickly ramp up the number of 3D screens at the circuits disposal, Sony will install the first 24 systems before the end of July.

There was no mention when installation of d-cinema equipment would begin in the U.S. or South America.  In fact the press release seemed purposefully non-committal, referring to the deal as an “expected global exhibitor agreement”. One could read into the use of the word “expected” or assume that Sony will be deploying equipment to the 450 screens National Amusements has in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. The theatre chain owns 16 theatres in South America which would probably be included in any worldwide rollout.

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Christie Gets DCI Compliance And New Manufacturing Faciltiy

Christie's CP2220

Christie's CP2220

It’s been a busy week for Christie. The company’s CP2220 was the first series 2 digital cinema projector to pass the Compliance Test Plan (CTP) put in place by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) to gauge whether equipment meets their published specification. As well, they announced the opening of a new manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China.

While many d-cinema equipment manufacturers claim their products are DCI compliant, it wasn’t until October of 2007 that a testing process was made public and testing entities were selected. Christie can now officially say the CP2220 is DCI compliant, having fully passed all tests that make up the CTP, including procedural and design reviews. Because Sony says the SRXR320 is compliant on their website I’m not sure if it’s the first digital cinema projector to pass the CTP, or just the first series 2 projector to pass it.

In the press release announcing the test results, John Hurst of CineCert, one of DCI’s icensed testing entities, said:

“We are very pleased to confirm that the Christie CP2220, featuring Texas Instruments’ Series 2 DLP Cinema technology, has passed all the requirements of the CTP.”

Passing the CTP is a huge milestone for a d-cinema technology vendor as it is the only way for equipment to become DCI compliant. Hollywood studios require all equipment playing their content to be DCI compliant. In making sure a piece of equipment meets all of the DCI specifications, one of the CTP’s main goals is to verify a device’s interoperability and content security features.

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Texas Instruments On Track With 4K

DLP Logo.jpgBoth at ShoWest and in the weeks leading up to the conference, I was able to speak with some of the folks over at Texas Instruments working on the company’s digital cinema offerings. They were happy to report that development of their 4K chip was right on schedule and some of the first 4K DLP projectors should be available for purchase in the first part of 2011, if not a little sooner.

For those who are just tuning into our industry, TI is the group that has been making DLP chips for cinemas since 1999.   Each DLP chip is an array of 2.2 million microscopic mirrors that move and rotate at high speeds to reflect the appropriate light and provide 2K image. Projectors based on the company’s DLP digital micromirror device (DMD) have been installed on over 19,000 movie theatre screens worldwide, giving them at least 90% of the digital cinema install base.

However, last year for the first time TI’s dominance in the market was threatened when two of the world’s largest cinema chains, AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas, announced they would be installing Sony’s 4K digital cinema projectors. While the DCI spec may only call for 2K, the marketing advantage of 4K was hard to overcome with exhibitors who were looking for a future-proof solution. So in June of last year TI announced they would be developing a 4K DLP chip for their OEM manufacturers, which include Barco, Christie and NEC. No development timeline or release date for the new chip was given.  Read More »

TI’s 4K Announcement Causes Waves – Wither 2K Now?

The announcement on Celluloid Junkie that Texas Instruments is developing 4K projector solutions is causing waves throughout the industry. The story was picked up by both THR.com (DLP making the jump to 4K) and Variety (TI leaping into 4K fray), which despite their headline both acknowledge that TI was effectively forced into this situation by the Sony tie up with Regal and AMC.Perhaps the best other coverage came from Eric Taub in the New York Times:

TI has always said that 2K is good enough, with tests showing that consumers can’t see the difference.

TI has been against 4K, until they were for it. On Thursday, the company announced that it would now market 4K technology, which will be incorporated into their next-generation projector technology to be manufactured by a variety of partners.

The company will continue to sell 2K projectors to the majority of its customers, according to Nancy Fares, business manager for TI’s DLP Cinema Products Group.

Ms. Fares said that this is not a case of TI trying to play catchup to Sony, which recently announced a number of large contracts to install its 4K projectors in AMC, Muvico, and Regal Entertainment cinemas. Texas Instruments has been working on 4K technology for two years, she said.

And when TI said that most consumers can’t see the difference between a 2K and 4K image, the company is sticking to its guns.

Their 4K technology will only be installed in about 20 percent of its customers’ theaters, the “brightest and biggest” with screens 70 feet and larger in size.

TI has meanwhile put out a press release providing details:

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Daily Cinema Roundup – Friday 8 May


- Catch someone taping a film off the screen? You have little choice but to let him (it’s rarely a ‘her’) walk free in the UK, according to Sky News. “Tim Richards, who runs Vue cinemas, told Sky News that while his staff are getting better at catching film pirates, he invariably has to let them go. He said: “We catch these individuals and we can’t do anything with them. It’s extremely frustrating.” But the police say sales of illegal pirated (usually elsewhere) DVDs are a bigger problem and the UK government urges cinema to go after the cinema camcorders with the Fraud Act. Yes, really, don’t laugh;

- UK mobile phone carrier Orange has been running its two-for-one mid-week offer for five years and have clocked up 14m uses (that’s 7m couples). From newmediaage, “The Orange Wednesdays offer has encouraged an average of 300,000 people to go to the cinema each week, saving them an estimated £30m, the operator said. The five most prolific users have redeemed the offer an average of 70 times each.” Apparently “Mamma Mia!” has been the most popular film.Notice that the Orange Witch [Surely she's green and wicked, not orange? - Ed.] from the advert (below) is brandishing a Celluloid Junkie icon popcorn box knock off. Definitely not authorised by us;

YouTube Preview Image

-Imax‘s finances are slowly improving, with Q1 of 2009 showing a narrow loss as the company waits for digital to kick in, according to THR.com. “Toronto-based Imax posted a loss of $2.6 million to March 31, compared to a loss of $10.2 million in 2008, on revenue up 43% to $33.7 million, against a year-earlier $23.5 million. Imax recorded sharply lower R&D costs compared to 2008 when it incurred steep digital projection rollout costs. The first quarter operating profit was $2 million, compared to a loss of $5.6 million in 2008.” Perhaps more interestingly than digitla itself was that revenue from bigged-up Hollywood releases such as “Watchmen” and “Monsters vs. Aliens” doubled from around $15m to over $30m in the quarter;

- Sony PicturesAngels & Demons” had its world premiere in Rome using Sony Electronics 4K SXRD projector. From the press release, “Oliver Pasch, head of digital cinema in Europe at Sony Professional says, “We’re delighted to have played a part in helping Sony Pictures  premiere Angels & Demons. The studio understands the phenomenal value of 4k projection and how it allows audiences from across the world to see more detail than ever before, thus creating a truly unique cinematic experience.”" The film will be released in 4K, so best place to catch it will be Norway or an AMC cinema – click here for full list of 4K locations.

-With the stand-off in Bollywood between Indian film distributors and multiplexes still not showing any sign of ending, exhibitors are starting to look for small films to distribute themselves. From liveMint.com, “In a clear signal that the gloves are off in the dispute with
producers, Fame India Ltd has joined forces with its fellow leading
national cinema chains INOX Leisure Ltd, Cinemax India Ltd, Adlabs
Ltd, Fun Cinemas and PVR Ltd and set aside around Rs40 crore [$8m] to
acquire a film on the open market for release in multiplexes, where the
deadlock has seen all new releases being put on ice since 4 April.
” A handfull of candidate films are hten listed. Meanwhile distributors are saying that they will release their films in single screens and independent multiplexes. Still no word if Hollywood distributors will soon start releasing their films during the stand off;

– If you think Indian multiplex operators have it hard, spare a thought for their colleagues in Iraqi, where cinemas are dying a slow death. From LA Times, “Before the 2003 invasion, Baghdad had 40 cinemas; now there are only
eight. In those days, the theaters opened at 8 a.m. and closed just
before midnight. Today, the theaters shut at 1 p.m. Hashim says only
the riffraff and lowlifes frequent his theater…. Other theaters have closed rather than cater to the new
market — the owners of the now-shuttered Nujoom (Star) cinema
described their clientele after 2003 as “drug addicts, alcoholics and
” We have highlighted the plight of Iraqi cinemas before, but it is sad that there appears to be no hope in sight;

- Reasons why 3D is plenty D’s enough, from UK’s The Mirror. “A cinema at a National Sea Life Centre is so realistic it is causing visitors to feel seasick. Bosses at the £1million 4D screen in Birmingham are handing out sea sickness bracelets after customers complained the images of giant waves, vibrating seats and water spray made them ill.” Isn’t ayone complaining bout the water sprays making their popcorn wet?

– A novel way of attracting customers to cinemas? Bag of cocaine found in Reel Cinema in Grantham by 10 year old. From the local paper, “”Obviously this is a family entertainment venue and children are present. It is very worrying when a ten-year-old comes into possession of drugs like this.” Jonathan had only recently started to let his son do things on his own but the experience has made him worry. He said: “What if a child had picked it up and thought it was sherbet? Or what if he had walked in to find someone taking drugs?” I’ve heard of weed smoking to Cheech and Chong and LSD for “2001: A space Odessey”, but cocaine to “X-Men Originas; Wolverine” seems like a desperate way of improving the film;

Sony Teams Up With RealD To Offer 3D Solution

Sony's 3D Dual Lens Adaptor Prototype

Sony's 3D Dual Lens Adaptor Prototype

Long criticized for their inability to project 3D films, at least inexpensively, Sony may have finally found an appropriate solution for its 4K projectors.  Earlier today Sony announced they would be working with RealD to merge the two companies’ technologies into a combined product offering.

Sony already manufactures a 3D dual lens adaptor for their 4K projectors which splits pre-polarized images into two 2K images.  Unlike DLP projectors that use “triple flash” (144 frames per second alternating for each eye), Sony’s 4K projectors serve up a simultaneous image to both the left and right eyes when used with the adaptor.  RealD will add to this mix a special customized optical filter that will enable Sony’s projectors to throw images onto silver screens as large as 55 feet while maintaining a light level of 4 foot-lamberts.

In a second deal, Sony gave RealD the “exclusive” rights to distribute Sony’s 3D lens adaptor for projectors installed in the United States, Canada and Europe.  Of course RealD will also be offering the rest of their 3D kit to go along with Sony’s gear, especially there new 3D EQ technology which provides “ghostbusting” directly on digital cinema servers.  The technology is meant to better separate the left and right eye images and eliminate the ghosting of 3D images, known as cross talk, which RealD’s system accentuates.  Up until recently, content owners had to create special digital cinema packages that were pre-ghostbusted for RealD installations, a fact they were not altogether happy about.

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Sony’s new 4K can now do 3D

Sony appears to have overcome one of the biggest drawbacks of its SXRD projector – the inability to do stereoscopics without resorting to two stacked projectors. The new wonder was unveiled at Cinema Expo. From THR.com:

Sony has unveiled a 4K digital projector with easy adaptability to 3-D projection. Previously, two of the pricey projectors were necessary to rig an auditorium for 4K 3-D, preventing the wide use of the high-resolution systems for 3-D exhibition.

Once considered the next-generation technology for digital cinema, Sony’s 4K systems have been struggling to overcome cost and manufacturing woes, and more conventional 2K d-cinema systems have remained the prevalent hardware in the marketplace. So Sony executives — hoping soon to remedy the additional 3-D headache — are demonstrating prototypes of the new 4K projectors with the aim of bringing the hardware to market by Christmas.

“It’s from the customer that you get the best feedback,” said Tore Mortensen, a Sony business manager now working with theater operators in Norway to test 3-D 4K projectors in four multiplexes.

Elsewhere at the confab Wednesday, Arts Alliance Media announced a 3-D addition to its alternative-programming offerings for d-cinema.

Interesting to see Tore being quoted, but then it is in Norway where the 4K SXRD has had the largest European installed base to date thanks to the NORDIC Project. [Full disclosure, I have worked in the past to assist the NORDIC project, which looks on course to help make Norway the first country to switch all of its cinemas to digital.]

Sony’s 4K finds home in Singapore’s Cathay

Slowly-slowly Sony is starting to make inroads into multiplexes with its 4K digital cinema projector. It hasn’t been helped by the recent Beowulf 3D near-hysteria, which was strictly 2K (and Imax), but we should see some more deployments before the end of the year. In time for CineAsia comes the news of the deployment with Singapore’s Cathay Cineplexes, whose involvement with digital cinema dates back to the pioneering day of Christie 1.3K DLP Cinema projectors in May 2004.

From the press release:

Sony is equipping two Cathay Cineplexes in Singapore, including their flagship The Cathay Cineplex, with the ultra-high-resolution SRX-R220 Digital Cinema Projectors. Combined with Sony’s LMT-100 Media Block servers and LSM-100 Screen Management System, the projector systems are specifically designed for digital cinema applications. The project is expected to be completed early next year. Upon the completion of the installation, movie-goers are able to enjoy the ultimate viewing experience jointly presented by Sony and Cathay Cineplexes.

“We are very impressed with the CineAlta 4K technology, as well as the professional services rendered by Sony. The deployment of the enhanced digital technology in our cinemas demonstrates our continued commitment to provide quality entertainment to our valued patrons,” said Suhaimi Radfdi, President of Cathay Organization Holdings Ltd. “We are now planning to introduce this advanced technology to our cinemas in Malaysia and Dubai, so that more movie-goers can immerse themselves in the superior cinematic experience.”

So Sony can stick at least two more pins into its world map soon. Rumour also has it that there will be some Central European 4K announcement as well soon, but not until after CineAsia. Let’s if any 4K movies will be distributed to these cinemas from Technicolor’s newly-announced Singaporean digital cinema hub.

4K projectors coming to the home already

JVC 4Kx2K No sooner has Sony not succeeded in making the SXRD 4K the preferred projector standard for cinemas (unless you count Muvico and Norway) then Japanese rival JVC launches a 4Kx2K projector for the home at the CEATEC trade show in Japan:

Victor Company of Japan Ltd. exhibited a projector with the display pixel count of 4096 x 2400 at CEATEC Japan 2007, which runs from Oct. 2 to 6, 2007.

Supporting the so-called 4K x 2K resolution, the new projector has an enhanced definition compared with the company’s existing 4096 x 2160 model, Victor said. The projector can throw a 200-inch picture from about 7 m away. The contrast ratio without an iris mechanism is 10,000:1, and the luminance is 3,500 lm.

The projector employs a 1.27-inch (3.2 cm diagonally) Direct-Drive Image Light Amplifier (D-ILA) microdisplay device, which is Victor’s proprietary product, for the display device. Compared to the 1.7-inch D-ILA microdisplay device used in the company’s existing projector, the size of the device in the latest model is reduced by about 43%.

It will not be out until the first half of 2008 and I’m not sure what you would want to play on it (four Blu Ray movies at the same time? Or 16 standard DVD players as inputs) but I’m sure someone will come up with innovative use for it.

The irony is not lost on Sony that JVC was the first to push the SXRDish D-ILA technology in cinemas, but ceded the ground to Texas Instrument’s DLP techonlogy after the Star Wars: Episode 1 shoot-out. Sony is actually turning out extremely good home cinema projectors based on the SXRD – better even than the DLP ones – but they are still not swaying cinemas, with about 98 per cent of the market opting for 2K DLP Cinema projectors.