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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » News item: UK pioneers digital film network (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: News item: UK pioneers digital film network
David Buckley
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 515
From: Oxford, N. Canterbury, New Zealand
Registered: Aug 2004


 - posted 02-26-2005 03:19 AM      Profile for David Buckley   Author's Homepage   Email David Buckley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Theres some good spin (and to be honest, [bs] ), and its only 2K, but it got the BBC excited...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4297865.stm

The world's first digital cinema network will be established in the UK over the next 18 months.

The UK Film Council has awarded a £11.5m contract to Arts Alliance Digital Cinema (AADC), who will set up the network of up to 250 screens.

AADC will oversee the selection of cinemas across the UK which will use the digital equipment.

High definition projectors and computer servers will be installed to show mainly British and specialist films.

Most cinemas currently have mechanical projectors but the new network will see up to 250 screens in up to 150 cinemas fitted with digital projectors capable of displaying high definition images.

The new network will double the world's total of digital screens.

Cinemas will be given the film on a portable hard drive and they will then copy the content to a computer server.

Visually lossless

Each film is about 100 gigabytes and has been compressed from an original one terabyte-size file.

Fiona Deans, associate director of AADC, said the compression was visually lossless so no picture degradation will occur.

The film will all be encrypted to prevent piracy and each cinema will have an individual key which will unlock the movie.

"People will see the picture quality is a bit clearer with no scratches.

"The picture will look exactly the same as when the print was first made - there is no degradation in quality over time."

Key benefit

The key benefit of the digital network will be an increase in the distribution and screening of British films, documentaries and foreign language films.


"Access to specialised film is currently restricted across the UK," said Pete Buckingham, head of Distribution and Exhibition at the UK Film Council.

"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,"

Digital prints costs less than a traditional 35mm print - giving distributors more flexibility in how they screen films, said Ms Deans.

"It can cost up to £1,500 to make a copy of a print for specialist films. "In the digital world you can make prints for considerably less than that.

"Distributors can then send out prints to more cinemas and prints can stay in cinemas for much longer."

The UK digital network will be the first to employ 2k projectors - which are capable of showing films at resolutions of 2048 * 1080 pixels.

A separate comeptitive process to determine which cinemas will receive the digital screening technology will conclude in May.

The sheer cost of traditional prints means that some cinemas need to show them twice a day in order to recoup costs.

"Some films need word of month and time to build momentum - they don't need to be shown twice a day," explained Ms Deans.

"A cinema will often book a 35mm print in for two weeks - even if the film is a roaring success they cannot hold on to the print because it will have to go to antother cinema.

"With digital prints, every cinema will have its own copy."

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Stephen Furley
Film God

Posts: 3040
From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 02-26-2005 03:51 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is now old news. The BBC carried a story on it in about May last year, and there were posts about it from both Leo Enticknap and myself about it in this forum. I think this was in the 'More d-cinema morons' thread.

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David Graham Rose
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 187
From: Cambridge, UK
Registered: Sep 2002


 - posted 02-26-2005 05:19 AM      Profile for David Graham Rose   Email David Graham Rose   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Greetings All having returned from the continent.

I note that Arts Alliance appear to have clinched the deal to 'select' the cinemas which will be equipped with 2K digital projectors and servers. I wonder how many City Screen Cinemas will be the worthy benefactors of Arts Alliance handouts? I find it such a shame that Odeon/UCI/CineUK/Showcase/UGC (delete as appropriate) will have no hand in deciding which of their theatres will be recipients of this manna from heaven.

Congratulations are due to City Screen on their forthcoming establishment (no doubt) of the UK's first 100% digital circuit. Jolly well done chaps!

Good evening

David

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-26-2005 05:34 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Three questions:

1. How can they install all the equipment for 46,000UKP per screen?

2. Where are they going to get digital "prints" of specialty films? To date, very few (if any) art/foreign/specialty titles are available for [dlp] screenings.

3. Are they just funding the initial installation, or will there be additional funding for ongoing support, maintenance, and upgrades?

Personally, I think that the whole thing sounds like a load of [bs] , but whatever....

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Matthew Nock
Film Handler

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From: Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia
Registered: Jan 2003


 - posted 02-26-2005 05:40 AM      Profile for Matthew Nock   Email Matthew Nock   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: David Buckley
The sheer cost of traditional prints means that some cinemas need to show them twice a day in order to recoup costs.

Umm excuse me? I thought the reason we all had to run so many sessions a day was cause the greedy film companies forced it on us?

and....

quote: David Buckley
A cinema will often book a 35mm print in for two weeks - even if the film is a roaring success they cannot hold on to the print because it will have to go to antother cinema.
excuse me? when was the last time we opened a day/date release and got to run it for ONLY two weeks because it had to go to another cinema? I dont think so!

what weed was that person smokin'? maybe we should pass it round?

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Frank Angel
Film God

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From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 02-26-2005 06:25 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Each film is about 100 gigabytes and has been compressed from an original one terabyte-size file.
Fiona Deans, associate director of AADC, said the compression was visually lossless so no picture degradation will occur.....People will see the picture quality is a bit clearer with no scratches.

Hmmmm, dumping all that information and still, miracles of miracles, it's "visually lossless." Fancy that! Maybe Fiona needs to get a stronger pair of glasses or try doing her visual evaluation when she isn't wacked out on crack.

quote: David Buckley
Most cinemas currently have mechanical projectors but the new network will see up to 250 screens in up to 150 cinemas fitted with digital projectors capable of displaying high definition images.

....just like you can see at home on your HDTV.

Yah....British documentaries and "specialty" films....that should have them banging down the doors to see this stuff in DIGITAL. And with NO SCRATCHES!

They keep talking about scratches as they are inevitable. Perhaps it would be a lot cheaper for the British exhibtion industry to hire people who know how to operate the "mechanical" projectors and who don't scratch film, than it is to install new equipement. It's like the guy who runs a limo service and he has a driver who is always getting into fender-benders and scratching up the limos. I guess if the limo owner applied the UK Film Council's thinking to his business, he would buy a new limo every time his operator got it scratched.....instead of hiring an operator WHO KNOWS HOW TO DRIVE!

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Kevin Markwick
Film Handler

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From: Uckfield East Sussex England
Registered: Sep 2004


 - posted 02-26-2005 11:11 AM      Profile for Kevin Markwick   Author's Homepage   Email Kevin Markwick   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Scott Norwood

1. How can they install all the equipment for 46,000UKP per screen?

2. Where are they going to get digital "prints" of specialty films? To date, very few (if any) art/foreign/specialty titles are available for screenings.

3. Are they just funding the initial installation, or will there be additional funding for ongoing support, maintenance, and upgrades?

The film council are buying in serious bulk which has enabled them to do a deal on equipment. Other installation costs such as electrical or building work to accomodate the new kit is paid for by the cinema.

Distributours in the UK have vowed to get behind the scheme by issuing letters underlining their commitment to providing product for the new network, particularly those involved with putting out "artier" films.

Cinemas that get selected will have to pay around £250 per month to have the equipment, presumably per screen, and as far as I understand it this will help pay for the upgrades and service of the kit.

Can't remember whether it is three or five years down the line cinemas will have the chance to buy the kit outright for around £3000 - £5000.

I've applied but have yet to find out if I've been succesful.

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Dick Vaughan
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK
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 - posted 02-26-2005 02:14 PM      Profile for Dick Vaughan   Author's Homepage   Email Dick Vaughan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We also applied. I heard from UKFC that they are not yet in a position to approve specific sites and will be contacting those cinemas that applied in the next week to clarify the situation.

the definition of speciality films is quite wide . If I can dig out the list of examples i will post it here

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Kevin Markwick
Film Handler

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From: Uckfield East Sussex England
Registered: Sep 2004


 - posted 02-26-2005 02:31 PM      Profile for Kevin Markwick   Author's Homepage   Email Kevin Markwick   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Frank Angel
I guess if the limo owner applied the UK Film Council's thinking to his business, he would buy a new limo every time his operator got it scratched.....instead of hiring an operator WHO KNOWS HOW TO DRIVE!

Frank, It's not about projection, it's about making certain films available to a wider audience. For instance Motorcycle Diaries went out in the UK on only 50 - 60 prints which meant many cinemas had to wait a long time to show it despite the invaluable coverage it was getting in the press. Making it available digitally should mean that more cinemas can take advantage of the demand when it is at its peak.

Pathe were never going to release a film like that on a 1000 prints but with digital they will be more inclined to risk releasing it wider.

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David Favel
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 764
From: Ashburton, New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 02-26-2005 10:52 PM      Profile for David Favel   Email David Favel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
http://www.sabucat.com/digital.pdf
Credit Suisse pdf file basically confirming that mr Lucas's dream has failed in the short term.

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
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 - posted 02-27-2005 01:28 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David, that article is fairly old and has some incorrect information.

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David Graham Rose
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 187
From: Cambridge, UK
Registered: Sep 2002


 - posted 02-27-2005 03:34 AM      Profile for David Graham Rose   Email David Graham Rose   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Greetings All

Just because a film is shown digitally, it doesn't mean more people will go to see it. The reason that a great deal of low budget British movies are not shown in cinemas is due to them being a large pile of elephant excrement. If any of these films were any good then a distributor would have picked the film up and released it with enough prints to give a quick return on their investment.

Putting digital projectors into UK cinemas is a great idea for the exhibition of first run 'commercial' movies. These so called good independant films could them be shown at the 11am screenings to fill the empty seats that the US led blockbusters so far fail to fill at this time of day. A rather simple solution do you not think?

Good morning, I am now off to church.

David

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 02-27-2005 05:25 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Moore's Law has moved us on a little bit since the last time we had this discussion, but I'm still not 100% convinced that the sums add up as yet. Even though it's nearly three years old the underlying arguments in the Huske Report (link posted by David above) still basically hold.

quote: Scott Norwood
3. Are they just funding the initial installation, or will there be additional funding for ongoing support, maintenance, and upgrades? [...] Perhaps it would be a lot cheaper for the British exhibtion industry to hire people who know how to operate the "mechanical" projectors and who don't scratch film, than it is to install new equipement.
Agreed. And I do wonder if they have really factored in the cost of scanning (from film originals) or transcoding (from 24pHD originals) for release. I recently paid £4k to have 632 feet of 16mm Dufaycolor scanned at 2k resoultion (and another £1.5k for a 35mm interneg and digibeta made from the scan). Consider the cost of getting a 35mm feature scanned (someone who works for a small distributor recently quoted the figure of $10k for a 5,500 foot silent - more than three times what his normal print inventory would cost). An arthouse distributor like the BFI or Artificial Eye simply won't be able to afford that. And as for us archivists, we're buggered. We might as well put all our 16mm and 35mm viewing copies in the skip right now - once this scheme takes hold theatrical audiences will be lucky if they get to see the stuff we've preserved in digibeta.

Even if you accept the principle whereby digital HD projection could be an effective way of increasing audiences for or the quality of non-mainstream product, I still think that FCUK (as it's known to its friends!) has jumped way too early. If, for example, the Sony 4K system achieves a significant market saturation for mainstream stuff within the next 2-3 years then arthouse exhibitors will be stuck with an inferior product and a very restricted inventory of titles that can be shown on it. My big fear is that when this all shakes out, most screenings in reality will be from a lo-res 525 or 625-line source - probably DVDs. Attendances at these theatres will fall, because the mainstream theatres will have vastly superior projection which even technically illiterate customers will recognise as such, and UKFC will have blown a huge chunk of taxpayers' cash.

BTW, interesting that the stock photo in the BBC's story was last used to illustrate one about the opening night of the last Star Wars film... [Roll Eyes]

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Frank Angel
Film God

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 - posted 02-28-2005 07:22 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Leo Enticknap
and UKFC will have blown a huge chunk of taxpayers' cash
DAMN....this is being done with TAXPAYER'S money? At lease Technicolor's "jump-start seeding" of 1000 DLPs installs to selected theatres (didn't they give up after less than 200 were actually put in?), dumb idea as it was, wasn't on the taxpayer's tab.

In the USA, taxpayers only have to pay for massive sports arenas.

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Kevin Markwick
Film Handler

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From: Uckfield East Sussex England
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 - posted 02-28-2005 07:36 AM      Profile for Kevin Markwick   Author's Homepage   Email Kevin Markwick   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The film council is funded by the national lottery, not really
tax payers money. It's our money granted, but playing the lottery is not compulsory.

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