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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » IMB (and IMS) comparisons (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: IMB (and IMS) comparisons
Bajsic Bojan
Expert Film Handler

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From: Ljubljana, Si, Eu
Registered: Aug 2008


 - posted 12-22-2012 04:57 AM      Profile for Bajsic Bojan   Email Bajsic Bojan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello,

since these devices have been around for some time now, i would guess people have some pros/cons to some of the equipment.

Early versions as i read have been riddled with various bugs, how are the issues now? What is everyone using and why?

Do you prefer running imbs with servers from Dcinema companies (like Dolbys library, Doremis showvault...) or external NAS. What seems to be working well, what not?

I am also interested in a feature that is advertized on some IMBs being "'h.264' playback for alternative content". What exactly would that mean? Does it mean i can ingest mp4 h.264 coded files on the server? Can i make a playlist with these files? Do they have to be mxf wrapped somehow like the mpeg2 versions? Or is this something completely different?

Thanks

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 12-29-2012 05:12 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It all depends on the IMB you choose of course. The Christie IMB can play generic MPEG2 and H.264 encoded content, even when it is not packaged into a DCP container. Still, you should be careful with those features and they're certainly not supported everywhere.

NAS support is also dependent on your IMB manufacturer. The Christie IMB for example supports generic NFS, which is, on paper, supported by almost any NAS out there. Still, you need to be sure that your chosen NAS can handle the required performance and is sufficient reliable for the task. Performance and stability of both your content network AND your NAS is especially important if you want to run multiple screens from the same NAS.

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Dave Macaulay
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From: Toronto, Canada
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 - posted 12-30-2012 11:59 AM      Profile for Dave Macaulay   Email Dave Macaulay   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Which IMBs are able to work with just NAS/DAS storage and no other equipment?
Christie's will but is, as far as I know, only compatible with Chrstie S2 projectors. Amybe it will work with other projectors (the interface for the encryptor board is a standard, I think) but obviously you won't have the Christie TPC to operate it from and would need a computer.
Dolby's IMB is part of the DS220 server, Doremi's IMB is part of the SV server.
If I have to use a Christie projector, that is not a plus in my opinion.

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Frank Cox
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 - posted 12-30-2012 12:28 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It has never been clear to me what an IMB actually is. I get the impression that it's something that goes in between the server and the projector to provide... what, exactly?

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Dave Macaulay
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From: Toronto, Canada
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 - posted 12-30-2012 02:35 PM      Profile for Dave Macaulay   Email Dave Macaulay   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Integrated Media Block". The dual SDI link from standard servers to D-cinema projectors doesn't have enough signal bandwidth for "full colour" 3D or for 4K projection. So the IMB was developed, eliminating the "link encryption" requuired for the original system that protects the video stream from being intercepted: the IMB connects directly to the projector's TI data bus to the light engine (also encrypted but in a different way). The IMB takes the video and audio data stored in the clip CPL and decrypts encrypted CPL data, then sends the picture information to the TI front end and the digital audio to whatever sound system is used. The Christie IMB is basically a complete server, you add storage (an NAS or DAS appliance) and control the server from a web interface or from the projector TPC.
The other IMBs I've seen are essentially part of the "server" that's located in the projector, with a high bandwidth data path connecting to the server chassis: Doremi uses a PCIe-4X link and Dolby uses Cat6 cables. These servers have controls identical to their dual SDI predecessors.
The data bandwidth with these two servers is enough for 60fps 3D at 2K: I don't know if any HFR frame rate is possible with 2D 4K, I haven't heard of any 4K 3D movie. I don't know what's possible with the Christie.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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From: Annapolis, MD
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 - posted 12-30-2012 02:36 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
An "IMB" is nothing more than the mediablock "integrated" within the projector itself...thereby never having any decoded form of the movie (picture or sound) traveling in the open. In conventional media blocks, Cinelink encryption (re-encrypted the video portion) is used so nothing is exposed.

So all an IMB really does is to move the mediablock out of the server and put it in the projector. The benefits are minimal (for things like 4K we don't need 8 HDSDI cables or 4 3G cables...and similar issues for 4:4:4 color on 3D). For this benefit, we give up, in my opinion, reliability and now put the sound up in the projector rather than keeping it with the server. Without a doubt, I have a MUCH higher frustration rate with the IMB systems over the conventional mediablocks (regardless of server company). We also add a level of complexity to the system and when the projectors are shut down at night...a system that is typically partially dead, partially alive...with mixed results on how the servers deal with that.

With an IMS system...the server moves with the mediablock into the projector. Thus the GUI and some degree of storage all reside within the projector...there could be some sense in this though you are likely now shutting down the server nightly and there is debate on the reliability of doing that. I think the debate will subside as SolidState Hard Drives replace conventional ones so that is likely the direction we are heading but we are not there yet. Most of the IMS systems rely on an external storage device for all but the most minuscule storage needs. So long as you are putting a server device outside of the IMB/S...I'm not sold on the concept. I don't like the two-part system. I want the server and mediablock booting together and operating together. Just think if the paranoid Hollywood could have given up on the Link Decryptor (Enigma) thing how many failures/botched shows could have been prevented.

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Marcel Birgelen
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 - posted 12-30-2012 03:52 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Dave Macaulay
Which IMBs are able to work with just NAS/DAS storage and no other equipment?
The Christie IMB is indeed a fully functional playback server, excluding the storage.

As far as I know, the Christie IMB-S2 is the only DCI certified IMB that's not bound to some other playback/storage solution currently available. Of course, it's only available for Christie projectors...

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Bajsic Bojan
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 - posted 12-30-2012 04:30 PM      Profile for Bajsic Bojan   Email Bajsic Bojan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Marcel Birgelen

As far as I know, the Christie IMB-S2 is the only DCI certified IMB that's not bound to some other playback/storage solution currently available.

I just went to check the QUBE site, and this is what i see:

QUBE Xi

- Autonomous IMB for standalone operation without storage server
- Great option for venues that loop content all day, no storage server!

What does that even mean? Unless it means it works off of an inserted usb disk/thumb? Then its kindof like a christie in this regard.

Oh, and the GDC 3000SX is also (At least on paper) a standalone IMB with SMS which can be connected to a NAS or similar server.

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Marcel Birgelen
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 - posted 12-30-2012 04:57 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Bajsic Bojan
Oh, and the GDC 3000SX is also (At least on paper) a standalone IMB with SMS which can be connected to a NAS or similar server.
Seems like I completely missed that one. On paper it looks quite impressive. I've not yet seen one in real life, so I don't know what kind of NAS support is available and what protocols are supported (usually NFS I guess) and their public documentation doesn't reveal anything useful too.

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Nastia Motovilova
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 - posted 01-29-2013 11:16 AM      Profile for Nastia Motovilova     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
About the Christie IMB as I understand it can only be installed in a Christie projector and it cannot be used with a Doremi or Dolby server i.e. the DSS220 or the Doremi ShowVault. It needs to be used with a commercial NAS server. Does DCI require any minimum specs to for the NAS server? In the solaria One manual it says:

quote:
. The Christie IMB integrated into the Solaria One was designed to work with commonly-available,
more flexible, lower cost, and highly-reliable commodity storage solutions. There are many low-cost
storage solutions and network architectures that will increase performance, reduce costs, and don’t
require locking into proprietary systems. For the most basic installs, we’ve developed a list of
recommended DCI compliant storage solutions that work reliably and seamlessly with the Solaria One
and Christie IMB. Contact your Christie sales representative for specific details

Do you know of any of the NAS options they refer to?

Also, the DSS220 connects to the IMB Cat. No. 745. Can the Dolby IMB connect to a Doremi server? Or can it be installed in a Christie projector?

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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From: Annapolis, MD
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 - posted 01-29-2013 09:05 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
At present, it is a one to one situation. That is Dolby connects to only Dolby, GDC connects to only GDC and on down the line. Dolby did try to be part of an open group such that there could be multiple server manufacturers and multiple IMB manufacturers such that they used a standardized/common Ethernet means of connectivity.

However, that plan appears to have fallen though.

The Dolby CAT 745 can go into a Christie series 2 projector (though I don't think the Solaria 1). Christie's software starting with 3.1.0.3. Note, Christie always had an option for a non-brand specific IMB.

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Nastia Motovilova
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 - posted 01-30-2013 02:35 AM      Profile for Nastia Motovilova     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Steve. I just found the "IMB and Christie Series-2 Projector" manual from Doremi. So regarding Doremi, it is possible to install their IMB into a Christie Series II projector though I don't know if when buying from Christie the projector, there's a version where only the Christie IMB can be installed while in another version any other IMB brands can be installed.

Does Doremi have their own brand IMB as in, do they manufacture it themselves or do they source it from other parties and just put their logo on it?

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 01-30-2013 04:53 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's not so complicated.

Doremi builds their own server and IMB - they sell it in slightly adjusted versions for all series-II projectors (well, if you leave out the Solaria One).
External proprietary storage server/SMS ('ShowVault'). Connection is PCIe, but proprietary API. That means, Doremi IMB and ShowVault (or modified DCP-2000 or -2k4) must go together.

Doremi also builds the IMS1000 - that is an IMB including SMS function AND storage. It can go into every series-II projector. Currently, Barco and NEC endorse it for their S2k machines. It has it's own web based management console.

The Christie IMS fits only Christie projectors, as it needs the Christie TPC to be operated. Currently it's the only one that is able to ingest to and play from general purpose external NAS. I don't know if anyone is actually operating multiple Christie IMS from a single highperformance NAS. I consider that approach critical. I guess most cinemas would rather attach a dedicated small NAS to every Christie IMS.
The Solaria One is the only DCI machine that can only be operated with Christies own IMS. Nice integration factor, but no choices.

The Dolby IMB is the only one that uses the DCOSA standard (encrypted content over Ethernet). While it's nice to have a standard, I don't think we will ever see enough IMBs and servers of different brands to actually be able to choose/mix. The market seems to be just to small to make good use of a standard here. To my knowledge, the Dolby IMB is actually produced by USL. Dolby used to go with MicroM for a while I think. All of them are members of DCOSA.

The classification is not too complicated:

IMB - MediaBlock/decoding inside projector, Server/SMS and storage external
IMS - MediaBlock/decoding AND Server/SMS inside projector
Then IMS may have the variants with internal or external storage

BTW - the new Sony SRX-R515P uses a similiar approch as the Doremi IMB/ShowVault. The server XCT-S10 is an external RAID6 box with SMS, the projector contains only the MediaBlock, connection is through PCIe.

I could think of another variant, I think GDC uses it - external content storage, but only a rather small SSD inside the IMB/projector. That would only buffer a single feature, but generates low heat and can be filled very quickly and is more reliable than classic HDs.

Besides the main functions, all IMB/IMS may have other interesting features as well - HDMI inputs, HD-SDI I/O. These might be worth looking at them as well.

E.G. the Doremi IMB has HDMI 3D capabilities for consumer content (3D BluRay/3D-TV). It will also pass-through 8ch HDMI audio to the AES Audio outs and to the CP, which makes alternative content playback very easy.
The Doremi also has an option for internal Barco Auro 3D 11.1 decoding.

- Carsten

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Bajsic Bojan
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Posts: 188
From: Ljubljana, Si, Eu
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 - posted 01-30-2013 03:24 PM      Profile for Bajsic Bojan   Email Bajsic Bojan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Carsten Kurz
E.G. the Doremi IMB has HDMI 3D capabilities for consumer content (3D BluRay/3D-TV)
I saw it has HDMI 1.4 compatibility listed. But does it actually do away with the dimension 3d thing and is allowing you to play back bluray 3D content in your 3D format, be it dolby, reald, xpand,... ?

Can you or anyone confirm it does that?

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Carsten Kurz
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 - posted 01-30-2013 04:52 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It was mentioned in one of the IMB firmware upgrade revisions, including the supported format(s).

'- Supports RealD SidebySide 3D format
– Support HDMI in 3D (Frame Packing)
– Support SDI in 3D (Dual 4:2:2)'

And I recently found this in a set of Doremi IMB training slides:

'• HFR via upgrade/license
• HDMI 1.3 Input with HDCP and framing packing for BluRay 3D
• Dual 3G HDSDI Input
• 4K projector image playback support
• 4K up to 30p, plays up to 400 Mbps compressed JPEG2000 data.
• Scaling HDMI/3G/MPEG-2/H264/VC1 playback to full resolution 2K / 4K (e.g. side = Scope and top/bottem = flat)
• Single audio output for DCI playback, HDMI input, and SDI input
• Playback of all formats in native XYZ to avoid switching formats on the
projector side
• De-interlacing support of 1080i inputs for DLP® Series II projectors only'

Haven't tried it myself, though.

- Carsten

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