Digital cinema

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Digital cinema refers to the use of digital technology to distribute and project motion pictures. A movie can be distributed via hard drives, optical disks (such as DVDs) or satellite and projected using a digital projector instead of a conventional film projector. Digital cinema is distinct from high-definition television and, in particular, is not dependent on using television or HDTV standards, aspect ratios, or frame rates. Digital projectors capable of 2K resolution began deploying in 2005, and since 2006, the pace has accelerated (2K refers to images with 2,048 pixels of horizontal resolution).

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Technology

To match or improve the theater experience of movie audiences, a digital cinema system must provide high-quality image and sound. Additionally, theater managers require server controls for managing and displaying content in multiple theaters, and studios want their content encrypted with secure delivery, playback, and reporting of play times to the distribution company.

Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a joint venture of the six major studios, published a system specification for digital cinema.[1] Briefly, the specification calls for picture encoding using the ISO/IEC 15444-1 "JPEG2000" (.jp2) standard and use of the CIE XYZ color space at 12 bits per component encoded with a 2.6 gamma applied at projection, and audio using the "Broadcast Wave" (.wav) format at 24 bits and 48 kHz or 96 kHz sampling, controlled by an XML-format Composition Playlist, into an MXF-compliant file at a maximum data rate of 250 Mbit/s. Details about encryption, key management, and logging are all discussed in the specification as are the minimum specifications for the projectors employed including the color gamut, the contrast ratio and the brightness of the image. While much of the specification codifies work that had already been ongoing in the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the specification is important in establishing a content owner framework for the distribution and security of first-release motion picture content.

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