ETC & JVC to bring electronic cinema to India

ETC & JVC to bring electronic cinema to India

This is a technology that is just about making its mark in even developed markets: delivery of movies to theatres via satellite transmission or electronic cinema. If things pan out, cinema goers in film crazy India will be partaking of the same experience by mid-2002, courtesy ETC Networks and Victor Company of Japan (JVC).

The two have joined forces to form Entertainment Cinema Network (I), a venture that will provide conditional access to film via satellite to cinema halls in India.

Digi-cinema is the first venture of its kind that promises a complete solution package for the distribution and exhibition sectors as well as for film production. Announcing the launch of Digi-cinema, ETC managing director Jagjit Singh Kohli said: "This distribution will have extremely sophisticated and secure conditional access and anti-piracy features."

This project envisages the use of the JVC's D-ILA technology projectors launched recently coupled with Digital HD playback equipment. These professional projectors are capable of a mind boggling real QXGA resolution of 2048*1536 pixels. Thus these projectors are ideally suited to exploit the maximum advantage out of HD format a standard which gives resolution of 1920*1080 lines in a 16:9 aspect ratio.

In addition to super high resolution, another key advantage of JVC's D-ILA LCOS devices is the vertical alignment ("homeotropic" structure) of the liquid crystal layer. This ensures that projected images have extra-high contrast and this makes it possible to reproduce accurately even subtle gradation differences between the lighter and darker parts of the projected image.

The contrast ratios achieved are as high as 1000:1. D-ILA projectors can also achieve more than 15000 ANSI lumens with stacking, which means that the picture can be viewed even in brightly lit halls.

The project will initially involve the transfer of 35mm prints to the HD Video format, their authoring, encryption and duplication for distribution with copyguard protection built in.

These digitised tapes will be delivered by hand over a three-month long pilot phase. 35 theatres in the country are to be part of the service, while commercial deployment will begin in April 2002.

According to Kohli, the joint collaboration with JVC is a very active one, wherein the Japanese company will participate in all aspects of the project. "It is a technical tie-up; there in no equity sharing with JVC, although later on they might participate in the equity. But their commitment is very high because India is the first country in which they are introducing this technology. If they succeed in India, this could be a launching pad for their success all over the world," says Kohli. Their stakes are very high, so they will do whatever it takes to persevere with us, he added.

Kohli does anticipate resistance from theatre owners as the cost of the equipment, comprising D-ILA projector, HD playback conditional access IRD along with dish antenna and LNB, is very high currently.

To overcome this problem and to encourage the producers and theatre owners to adapt this format, the joint venture will seed the market and promote this technology, says Kohli. "We will install the equipment in a select number of cinemas at subsidised schemes," he added.

Kohli said that they would select from among a range of big and small theatres from metros as well as interior areas, but added that the process has not been initiated so far.

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