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Author Topic: Article on 48fps for Digital Projectors
Joshua Waaland
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Cleveland, Ohio
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 - posted 04-18-2012 10:18 PM      Profile for Joshua Waaland   Email Joshua Waaland   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Obviously film makers can just do whatever they want now and the rest of the industry has to scramble to meet their requirements. Can't say that I'm surprised that these two directors are involved.

http://tv.yahoo.com/news/peter-jacksons-hobbit-hit-theaters-48-per-second-023327504.html

Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit' Should Hit Theaters at 48-Per-Second Frame Rate

The Hollywood Reporter - The cinema technology industry is working to give movie goers the opportunity to see The Hobbit: An Unfinished Journey in 3D projected at 48 frames per second when it opens in theaters this December.

The question is, just how many theaters around the world will be able to accommodate this sort of presentation of Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy, the first major motion picture to be made at the high frame rate (HFR) of 48 fps.

It is conceivable that it could be tens of thousands, though most manufacturers—at least publicly—are taking a far more conservative wait-and-see approach, noting that theater upgrades will be driven by studio and exhibitors' demand.

Frame rates are the number of images displayed by a projector within one second. Twenty-four frames per second (fps) has long been the standard in cinema, but industry leaders James Cameron and Peter Jackson are among those who propose high frame rates such as 48 or 60, reducing or eliminating jutter and other motion artifacts.

Digital cinema auditoriums are currently not equipped to support 48 fps movies, though work is being done to change that.

Each projector maker will have its own strategy for high frame rate support.

There are roughly 13,000 Sony 4K digital cinema projectors shipped worldwide, and “we expect the majority of those screens to have high frame rate support enabled by the time The Hobbit is released,” Sony told The Hollywood Reporter.

Industry leaders explained that Series 2 projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC—all of which used technology from Texas Instruments—would be able to show The Hobbit at a HFR and in 3D with a software upgrade and a piece of hardware call an “integrated media block” (IMB) with 48 fps (and 3D) support. Such IMBs are being developed by several manufacturers such as Christie, whose IMB is expected to be available in June for roughly $10,000.

Don Shaw, senior director, product management, Christie Entertainment Solutions, estimated that worldwide there are between 40,000 and 50,000 installed Series 2 projectors that are capable of being upgraded.

While many have an eye on The Hobbit’s December release date for an upgrade, some upgrades might be needed even sooner, since there is speculation that a 48 fps trailer for The Hobbit might be released as early as this summer.

HFRs doen't just affect exhibition; it also impacts production. Jackson is shooting his movie in 3D with Red Epic cameras (various digital cinematography cameras including those from Red already support 48 fps) and 3Ality Technica rigs.

Wellington-based Park Road Post Production has developed a 48 fps postproduction process anchored in color grading and postproduction system Mistika, from a Spain-based equipment maker called SGO. Development of the postproduction process began in 2010.

SGO worked closely with Park Road to enhance the system to meet the needs of the production. “We started with one Mistika and rapidly went to around five … Now there are tens of machines,” said Phil Oatley, head of technology at Park Road Post, who explained that the postproduction company also developed proprietary asset management, automation, and an archival system aimed at 48fps support.

The effort also involved Christie and Barco. Park Road is testing projectors from both companies, running beta software to enable the 48fps capabilities.

A huge challenge across the board is the volume of data that is required for HFRs. Oatley reported that for The Hobbit production shoots 6-12TB of camera data per day. And the shooting schedule (for both parts of the two-part film) involves 265 days of principal photography. (There are roughly 50 days to go).

Oatley said a key aim was to keep the filmmaking process “as familiar as possible.” As an example, the film is being edited on an Avid Media Composer at 24 fps in 2D. Park Road has developed a method of taking that edit information into post at 48fps 3D.

With the 48fps system now in place, Oatley said Park Road Post is now prepared to handle future 48 fps productions.

James Cameron, who conducted a high-profile demonstration of the potential of HFRs last year at CinemaCon, has said that he intends to make Avatar 2 and 3 at a HFR.

To support these efforts, standards bodies are looking to add HFRs to digital cinema specifications.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

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 - posted 04-19-2012 12:04 AM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I wonder if there will be a 48fps Blu-ray. My TV can do both 48Hz and 96Hz (your choice) but most TVs do have have a refresh rate that is divisible by 24, 30, 60 and 48 like mine. But then one might say "The 24fps version will be just fine because, you see, you can just delete half the frames, get 24fps and it will look like any other movie." But will it? I imagine the shutter speed and whatnot will all be set for 48fps. The motion blur would also be indicative of 48fps motion. Deleting half the frames might make it look choppy, kind of like increasing the shutter speed on any motion camera. I don't really see anyone winning from this whole 48fps thing.

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Antti Nayha
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 - posted 04-19-2012 04:01 AM      Profile for Antti Nayha   Email Antti Nayha   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To make it work at both 24 and 48 fps, they’re shooting ”The Hobbit” at 48 fps with a 270° shutter angle. That amounts to a shutter time of 1/64 seconds.

When they drop off every other frame to make the 24 fps version, that becomes effectively a 135° shutter angle. That is indeed slightly choppier than the usual 180°, but they can always smooth it out in post a bit if they feel like it.

Doug Trumbull’s new Showscan Digital system shoots at 120 fps with a 360° shutter, which makes it much easier to create different framerates and ”virtual shutter angles” in post. The BBC has made some tests at 300 fps / 360°, giving you even more options (see this white paper from 2008 for details).

Regarding the Blu-Ray frame rate, we’ll see. Blu-Ray currently supports 24, 50 and 60… Perhaps they will just speed the 48 fps stuff up to 50? They’ve been doing 24–>25 fps conversions here in the PAL part of the world for decades, and nobody’s really noticed. Or maybe they’ll just release a 24 fps version for the home market, saving the ”premium” HFR experience for cinemas.

The Blu-Ray problem might be one of the reasons why Cameron wants to go all the way to 60 fps.

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Justin Hamaker
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 - posted 04-19-2012 04:56 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My understanding is the series 2 projectors which do triple flash 3D are already capable of projecting the 48fps 2D, but would need a software upgrade for the 48fps 3D.

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 04-19-2012 05:33 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
They need a software upgrade AND an IMB for 48fps 3D. The software upgrade could come for free, but not the IMB. And the specific 3D system in use also needs to support it.

- Carsten

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Justin Hamaker
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 - posted 04-20-2012 04:23 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Is the IMB in the GDC servers inadequate for the high frame rated 3D? We received information from GDC about a future update which will handle the hfr content.

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 04-20-2012 05:36 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The problem is that some manufacturers like to promote their gear without being too specific. The bottleneck is not so much the mediablock itself, but based on the previous standards, the connection between the media block and projector. A classic server with builtin MediaBlock uses Twin HD-SDI connections/Cinelink to the projector. These are already at the limit with 24fps/3D (=48fps).

Now some manufacturers say their existing servers or projectors can do HFR at 48fps - but often that is HFR in 2D, not in 3D. With 3D, the necessary input bandwith is doubled. The classic TI set of input modules can not handle that, neither can the dual HD-SDI.

48fps/3D (=96fps) needs an IMB, where compressed content is transferred directly into the projector. The term 'IMB' then refers to the Media Block being integrated into the projector, not the server.

The classic Dual HD-SDI connections, that means, probably 90% of the installed DCI DLP systems, will never be able to do 3D HFR. These systems need hardware upgrades (possible only for series-II systems).

There is little sense in promoting 2D HFR, although at some time we will probably see 2D HFR features as well. For now, it's a 3D thingy (The Hobbit, AVATAR sequels).

Series II systems can be upgraded with an IMB. No chance for 3D HFR at all for series-I projectors (except again for 2D HFR, which bascially is the same as 3D(=48fps).

Some existing classic servers can be upgraded to a projector integrated MediaBlock as well, you can return the server built-in media block as a trade-in. That upgrade could cost you something like 8000-10.000US$. Such an upgrade package is available for the Doremi servers. You return the Dolphin board and install a PCIe board into the server and an IMB into the series II projector. Similiar for Dolby. For GDC I don't know. They have an IMB, but I don't know about upgrade paths. Their site mentions little about HFR at all, although their brandnew standalone IMB (another IMB breed like Christies) supports HFR. The press release for this IMB mentions a HFR upgrade package.

http://www.gdc-tech.com/ndownload/pressroom/2012/GDC_SX-3000_press_release_Eng_120420_Final.pdf

Sonys can do HFR with a software upgrade only.

- Carsten

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Victor Liorentas
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 - posted 04-20-2012 08:53 PM      Profile for Victor Liorentas   Email Victor Liorentas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Of course Cameron and Trumbull are talking 60 fps.
Actually Trumbull keeps mentioning 120...

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Antti Nayha
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 - posted 04-21-2012 02:47 AM      Profile for Antti Nayha   Email Antti Nayha   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Trumbull is promoting 120 fps shooting, not necessarily 120 fps projection. The point is that when you shoot at 120 fps at 360° shutter angle, you can easily extract different framerates in post depending on the style of motion you want.

He had a nice demo video of this on the Showscan website, but it doesn’t seem to be working right now…

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Mattias Mattsson
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 - posted 04-21-2012 08:08 AM      Profile for Mattias Mattsson   Email Mattias Mattsson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
3G-SDI (SMPTE-424) offers double the bandwidth of the currently used HD-SDI. At least Barco series 2 projectors can handle 3G-SDI. Unfortunately dual 3G-SDI does not seems to be standardized.

Wouldn't it be possible to use dual 3G-SDI for 3D HFR content?

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 04-21-2012 03:18 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Barcos have dual SMPTE-292M ports, that is not 3G. While they can act as 424M per spec, you would need this on the server and the projektor side. And as you say there is no standard for dual 424M. Even single link 424M is rare.

+ 3G interfaces does not mean that your classic series II TI boardset can handle these input datarates throughout the full cinema processing chain - so there might be other bottlenecks inside the classic projector processing chain. All established functions like Cinelink-II, LD-Board, ICP/cinemaprocessing, subtitling, 3D color correcting, ghostbusting, watermarking, etc. need to be able to support 2-2.5x bandwith. In parts on the server side, in parts on the projector side.

While this could be overcome by designing 'new' classic DLP boards and server built-in mediablocks with higher throughput to account for this, it would still be a costly hardware upgrade just as well, and the now accepted standard of doing this simply is the IMB. It is necessary for 4k as well and the future potential for this kind of signal entry is a lot larger, because it is signal-agnostic. SDI can only carry certain approved types of signals. Gigabit Ethernet or PCIe can carry anything into the projector.

+All current available IMBs offer more functionality than the classic series-I/II modules as well - some newer IMBs even include the SMS and thus are completely self-contained.

- Carsten

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Antti Nayha
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 - posted 04-22-2012 05:10 AM      Profile for Antti Nayha   Email Antti Nayha   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Carsten Kurz
Some existing classic servers can be upgraded to a projector integrated MediaBlock as well, you can return the server built-in media block as a trade-in. That upgrade could cost you something like 8000-10.000US$. Such an upgrade package is available for the Doremi servers. You return the Dolphin board and install a PCIe board into the server and an IMB into the series II projector. Similiar for Dolby.
Can you already return your Cat. No. 862 (the media block module inside a Dolby DSS200) and receive an IMB in exchange? Since the Dolby-branded IMB is still not available, which IMB are they offering then?

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 04-22-2012 07:15 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
No, not yet. Maybe they get it finally going from Cinemacon.

- Carsten

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 05-04-2012 05:27 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Now it seems that the first official soft- and hardware for HFR will only be available from Fall 2012 (Dolby, Sony). The Sony software upgrade for HFR will cost 3000US$.

Doremi with their IMB is probably earlier. Barco now offers projector/Doremi IMB bundles with HFR capability, so one should assume these specific combos have been tested. To my knowledge, however, the final specs for HFR DCPs have not yet been issued. I think Cameron mentioned that he would make his HFR demo footage available? Now that Peter Jackson cancled 48fps trailers for 'The Hobbit', there certainly is a need for HFR demo footage to test the systems.

The SMPTE STEM footage is way to expensive.

- Carsten

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Jonathan Goeldner
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 - posted 05-14-2012 04:35 PM      Profile for Jonathan Goeldner   Email Jonathan Goeldner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Regal is on board for it's (2,700+) projector's to be upgraded to playback 48fps content as had Cinemark for it's XD screens and standard 3D systems. AMC has yet to make any sort of official news... yet.

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