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UK Film Council doing 250 D-cinema screens

1055 Views 14 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Ohlson

Arts Alliance Digital Cinema (AADC), the pioneer provider of digital cinema services, has been selected by the UK Film Council to install and run the world's first digital screen network, a core part of the UK Film Council's strategy for improving access to specialised film and broadening the range of films available to audiences throughout the UK.

In a contract worth around £11.5 million, Arts Alliance Digital Cinema will provide a network of up to 250 screens throughout the UK. Each cinema will guarantee a minimum number of specialised (arthouse/foreign language) film shows a week in return for the equipment. This separate competitive process is currently nearing completion. It is anticipated that the winning cinemas will be announced in May, with the first installations occurring in the autumn of this year and the final installation around 18 months later.

The agreement with AADC runs for the period of the installation/rollout plus 4 years. It covers installation, training, servicing, warranties and upgrades for the lifetime of the contract. In addition, under the terms of the contract, AADC will, if and when required, create digital cinema masters for specialised film content, and when requested load onto disks, deliver to the cinema and supply the security keys for the cinema to play out the film all at a pre-agreed price.

Distributors with a specialised film can therefore use the digital screen network at a competitive price to distribute films to cinemas in digital format. Once it is provided with a high definition or uncompressed 2K version of the film, AADC will compress and encrypt film to create digital distribution versions. The cost of this compares extremely favourably to the current cost of 35mm film (which for specialised film can be circa £1,500 a print) which is currently a significant barrier to specialised films being seen in more cinemas.

"Access to specialised film is currently restricted across the UK. Although a genuine variety of films is available in central London and a few other metropolitan areas, the choice for many outside these areas remains limited, and the Digital Screen Network will improve access for audiences across the UK," said Pete Buckingham, head of Distribution and Exhibition at the UK Film Council. "We're delighted to be working with Arts Alliance Digital Cinema to improve access for UK cinema audiences."

Arts Alliance Digital Cinema will work with its suppliers to procure, integrate, install and manage equipment in cinemas. Christie Digital Systems and NEC (supported by Digital Projection Ltd) will supply 2K DLP Cinema(tm) Projectors while QuVIS will supply servers. Cinema staff will also be trained and supported and AADC will work with Impact Marcom, Sound Associates, The Metropolitan Film School and the BKSTS to provide these services.

"The UKFC is using a ground-breaking way to give cinema-goers the widest choice of films at their local cinemas," said Fiona Deans, associate director, Arts Alliance Digital Cinema. "We're thrilled to work with them on the world's first large-scale deployment of digital cinema."

AADC was selected in a competitive bid governed by the EU supplies directive. Every full-time licensed cinema is eligible to apply to join the scheme
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Hi all. I am one of the people at AADC. We are obviously thrilled to be involved in the project. It's a bit early to know exactly what I can and can't say here, but suffice to say the collection of experts on avs-forum are an appealing technical sounding board and I'd love the opportunity to run our decisions by some set of you. DCI standards aren't entirely baked yet and so there is some projecting (bah) and guessing involved in lots of elements of the systems.

Now if only somehow this meant I could get a 2k projector for home. :)
I am very interesting in this program. I think it will flush out many of the pitfalls and quirks in doing a large scale D-cinema network. Any idea on the approximate mix of projectors? From the press release it sounds like distribution may be on physical media... I would have guessed satellite for this many sites.
First Japan and now the UK. This is exciting even though the US seams to be severely lagging behind as usual:(


Glad to have you on board. Please keep us posted on progress.

KWhite thanks for the heads up.
The mix will depend on the final selection of screens, but all will be 2k DLPs of two varieties, not sure I can say which manufacturers yet. We're intending to follow DCI as much as possible, so wavelet based (JPEG-2000-"like") servers. Even with 250 screens, the reality is shipping 100G files is cheapest on SATA disks that you can reuse say 15 times before they break. Given that different cinemas will take different movies at different times and don't have storage for every active movie, broadcast (satellite) isn't a great option, and unicast (terrestrial) just isn't cheap enough yet.
Press release already announced that it would be Christie and DPI/NEC projectors. I see your point about the satellite transmission, but for say 250 screens that may have 3-5 movies a week plus counting for logistics time (loading and travel time) you are probably going to need >1000 mobile disks and a crew of people to manage/load them. Plus the costs of transporting all these disks back and forth and the associated security issues. Seems like it would be better to put a few extra disks at each site and develop a application to dump or not record movies from the satellite transmission that will not be used at a given site. Seems like this could even be automated as the theatres would have to use some sort of software to book the movies anyways. Heck, make a deal with Tivo for their software interface, publish a broadcast schedule to the theatres and let them set their own record/capture times. Phone line or network connection could be used to report the transaction and a checksum to make sure the file downloaded complete. Plus you would then have access to live broadcast capabilities for other events - sports, concerts, etc. You could still use physical media in case of problems as a back-up.
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Ha! Pays to read your own press release. So the mix is likely to be mostly Christie, as they are the "bigger" units, the DPIs are great for small screens or tight booths. QuVIS servers.

Anyhow, where do you come up with the 1000 disk number? These are transport disks, not playout disks, so the cinema only needs them for a couple of days. There can also be more than 1 title on a disk, and the runtime is more than a week usually. Initially of course, we won't have 250 screens. I think you're probably right that by the time we hit 250 installed screens, drives would be rough. But we'll be starting with a few, moving to 50, etc.
^^BUMP^^ Looking for an update here.
£12 million cinema-going revolution begins in UK as cinemas turn digital.

World-first digital screen network will massively increase choice of films on offer to British audiences.

The UK Film Council is the Government-backed strategic agency for film in the UK. Its main aim is to stimulate a competitive, successful and vibrant UK film industry and culture, and to promote the widest possible enjoyment and understanding of cinema throughout the nations and regions of the UK.

http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/ for link to list of the selected 209 cinemas.
D-cinema but here in the US for a change!

Access Integrated Technologies and Christie Digital Systems Sign Ground-Breaking Agreement for Digital Cinema Rollout Plan Targeting 2,500 Screens Within Two Years

Tuesday June 21, 8:00 am ET

Newly Created Funding Vehicle, a Digital Cinema Industry Milestone, Features Minimal Cost to Exhibitors

MORRISTOWN, N.J., and CYPRESS, Calif., June 21 /PRNewswire/ -- In a major move designed to accelerate the long-awaited implementation of Digital Cinema nation-wide, Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. ("AccessIT") (Amex: AIX - News) and Christie Digital Systems, USA (Christie) today jointly announced a preliminary agreement to create the movie industry's first practical Digital Cinema funding framework. The plan satisfies the diverse concerns of movie studios and exhibitors by standardizing content format, delivery and presentation. It minimizes financial risks for studios and exhibitors by establishing an innovative template that allows private investment in the burgeoning Digital Cinema industry. The agreement includes a two-year plan for a 2,500-screen rollout, with over 200 screens to be operational by the end of 2005.


To facilitate the agreement, AccessIT has formed a subsidiary, Christie/AIX, to act as a funding vehicle and administrator. Under the terms of the agreement, the new entity will provide funding for a turnkey Digital Cinema solution that includes the latest generation 2K resolution Digital Cinema projectors and all related hardware systems. AccessIT and interested third-party lenders will provide capital for the systems. Christie/AIX will serve as intermediary between content owners -- including major studios and independent distributors, who will pay "virtual print fees" -- and exhibitors, who will be responsible for installation costs, software license fees, and a 10-year maintenance contract, with a cost structure similar to conventional film maintenance. The company anticipates that when implemented, the current plan is expected to have a material impact on AccessIT's future financial performance, contributing to the company's reported revenues, EBITDA, and cashflow over the next ten-year period.

Christie/AIX, contracting with Christie, will provide exhibitors with a full range of DCI-compliant hardware and software including the industry-leading Christie CP2000 DLP Cinema(TM) projectors, media players and central server equipment. This includes AccessIT's vendor-agnostic library/central server software called Theatre Command Center (TCC). Christie will perform all field installation and support services. AccessIT will offer its digital delivery and content management services, under commercial terms, to customers of Christie/AIX who utilize the company's fully managed, satellite-based content delivery services.

The Christie/AIX plan will be in effect through 2018. Term sheets have already been signed by key Hollywood studios, and substantive agreements in principle have been established with national exhibitors for delivery of a large, undisclosed number of systems. Funding for the first 200 screens will be implemented by Christie/AIX immediately upon the signing of definitive agreements with the studios that have signed term sheets.

"This landmark agreement represents the crucial and long-awaited first step to make the transition to Digital Cinema a practical reality for both exhibitors and the film studios," said Bud Mayo, President and Chief Executive Officer of AccessIT. "Christie and AccessIT have laid the foundation -- not only for a rollout to 2,500 screens, but for an innovative, flexible template and real-world solution for the entire industry to launch a Digital Cinema deployment to all 36,000 movie screens throughout the United States and Canada, using multiple vendor sources."

Jack Kline, President/COO of Christie USA, added, "AccessIT continues to demonstrate its unique understanding of both the business and technical requirements of Digital Cinema. We share a unified vision of the future of digital entertainment. AccessIT's unique capabilities, combined with Christie's market-leading services and technologies, as well as our understanding of exhibition and long history in the industry, make us the natural choice to fulfill the long-anticipated promise of Digital Cinema. It's a significant step toward helping to revitalize the entertainment experience for millions of movie-goers in North America and around the world."
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And now a Barco/Kodak D-cinema press release...must be that time of year.

Barco, Kodak set digital-projection alliance

Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:03 PM ET

By Gilles Castonguay

BRUSSELS, June 22 (Reuters) - Belgium's Barco (BARBt.BR: Quote, Profile, Research) and Eastman Kodak (EK.N: Quote, Profile, Research) have formed a strategic alliance to sell digital-projection systems to movie theatres and seek to capture a big part of a new market potentially worth billions of euros.

Barco and Kodak will sell, install and service the system, which is set to replace the 35-mm film projector and revolutionise the way movies are screened, the companies said on Wednesday.

Barco will provide the projectors, while Kodak will offer the servers, software and other services.

"We want to be ready for when the digital cinema market starts to explode," Barco Chief Executive Martin De Prycker told a news conference on Wednesday.

"For us, this is a huge opportunity."

Digital projection promises better picture quality for moviegoers and lower distribution costs for studios.

But roll-out of the technology has been slow because the industry has yet to agree on a common standard as well as a business model to help theatres cover the purchasing costs.

De Prycker said Barco and Kodak would not offer financing, as two rivals -- distribution-software maker Access Integrated Technologies (AIX.A: Quote, Profile, Research) and projection-equipment maker Christie Digital Systems -- plan to do.

Kodak is undergoing a dramatic transition toward digital cameras and services as it moves away from its traditional film business, which is in decline. Its officials were not available for further comment on the latest initiative.
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Cool! Now maybe I'll have a 2k dcinema within 500 miles of me.
I am waiting for the 4k dlp announcement. I am expecting it sometime this year.

I am also waiting for 10+ 2ks being installed in Sweden. Now there is only one as far as I know.
Why would you expect 4k DLP this year? Maybe a xDC2k eventually but we haven't even seen any xHD3/4 front projection units yet.
I might have to be satisfied with some 2k dlps coming to Sweden in 2005.

As you say I would expect any 4k to be using SmoothPicture/wobulation like in xHD3/xHD4. The process improvement with significantly smaller mirrors is encouraging.
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