Digital cinema advertising and me

Najwa Nimri - Paz Vega
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, might have seen some posts on “digital cinema“. I have been researching the topic for more than a year now. And for a reason, of course: it seemed like the right kind of business for me, at the right moment (i.e. the really early days). And well, now I’ve actually found a way to make it into my day-time job.

I’ve just started working at Screenvision Europe as Technical Director. Specifically, I will be coordinating the Belgian migration towards digital cinema advertising: that is, digital distribution and digital projection. An ambitious project with a nice mix of technology, media and cinema – and a great bunch of colleagues. (Yes, Screenvision is indeed the fireworks logo you see before the commercials in the cinema and, no, I can’t change that logo) So don’t be surprised to see acronyms like MPEG2, JPEG2000, S/PDIF, 2K and 1080i pop up in my posts and/or links from now on.

I now have an even better excuse to see more movies (as if I needed that).

Big bazooka: XL Gaming @ Kinepolis

Kinepolis XL-GamingThat 24″ screen not big enough for you? Now you can a rent a movie theatre for a half hour to play Playstation games on the big screen in Kinepolis Brugge.

Thanks to the widespread digitalisation of Kinepolis cinemas, Kinepolis is developing further ‘alternative content’ in conjunction with Barco and Technicolor. In addition to digital full-length films, cinema-goers can now also experience more and more alternative content in digital format, such as prestigious events, television series, live concerts and sports competitions – and now XL Gaming, too.

Imagine you could rent a movie theatre and show whatever you want, without the necessity of 35mm film, to a public of, let’s say, 20 to 50 people. What would you project?

  • movie DVD: classic movies that never get to the screen anymore, like “Spinal Tap”, “The Party”
  • music DVD: stuff like “Woodstock”, “Sade – Lovers Live”
  • series DVD: 3 seasons of “Friends” in a row, or series that never made it to Europe like “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
  • comedy DVD: a night full of Eddy Murphy, George Burns or Da Ali-G Show
  • documentary DVD: Carl Sagan or the BBC’s “A Brief History of Infinity”
  • Powerpoint presentations: if they add a crane, you can even do an “Al Gore” (cf “An Inconvenient Truth”)
  • software demos: e.g. Final Cut Pro, Second Life
  • live Skype session: with the webcam in that little top right 10m² block

What would you want to see on a huge screen like that?

Mission Impossible III: largest digital release ever

Add one more superlative to Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible: III”: it is the largest digital release ever, playing on more than 170 digital cinema screens throughout North America. And all digital preparation and distribution to those screens was handled by Kodak Digital Cinema.

Mission Impossible III
(Digital cinema is obviously of much better quality than this pixelized image – this just says “digital”, doesn’t it?)

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Digital cinema: movie distribution

I wrote about digital cinema earlier. I want to focus now on the distribution of movies to theatres.


The movie’s video signal is compressed and encrypted into a bitrate of max 250 Mbps, which translates in 31.25 MB/second or 112.50 GB/hour footage. So a ‘short’ 90-minute movie is something like 170GB, and a 2h30 movie, with some audio thrown in, is more like 300 GB. The estimates from the DCI specification are even higher: around 140 GB per hour running length (video, audio and subtitles together) or around 38 MB/s.
movie storage requirements
Continue reading Digital cinema: movie distribution