Asian D- Cinema Summit calls for a uniform technology format

SINGAPORE: Is the whole world soon going to be divided into the Digital and the Non Digital? Well, looks like. And not just that, but understanding the digital world seems like the only way to remain relevant in the rapidly converging media & entertainment industry.

Broadcast Asia 2006, aptly embodies a theme, titled Digital - The Journey Forward. And to go with the theme, the mega event which is made up of exhibitions, conferences and meetings, started off bang on with 'The Asian D-Cinema Summit.'

The summit focused on the rollout of digital cinema, which has revolutionised the cinematic experience for moviegoers around the world. Setting the agenda for a day-long discussion, Mike Connors, chairman Connors & Associates, Singapore, began the session by shedding light on the overall scenario.

He said, "The coming days are going to pose newer challenges for people in the movie business. Cause: digital cinema is more than just perfect images and sounds, but it impacts on how a movie is actually made (production), distribution and projection in the theatres. So, it's not just about digital capture but also about digital delivery and projection. So, going the digital way is all about setting up systems that ensures a uniform and high level of technical performance along with quality control."

So, how does the movie industry flourish as well as move towards a smooth transition to a digital future? What came across was that one has to move towards one digital distribution and exhibition format. And that format is clearly complying with the Digital Cinema Specifications (DCI which came across in 2002).

Taking the discussion further, Thomas Lim, Director, Education, Learning, Digital Media & entertainment, IDA Singapore, said, "The film fraternity across the Asian region seems to grappling with issues of complying with the Digital Cinema initiatives, to ensure great quality control. In fact, Singapore is fast emerging a great hub by playing a strong support to the industry in terms of helping comply and convert content to the norms of DCI."

Some of the other questions which were raised during the opening session were what are the technical developments that will help enhance the conversion to digital screens? In the future, who will bear the technology cost? How will distributors and exhibitors work out their new equations? Will we have to create fresh content as the theatres go digital? Or will moviegoers have to pay more to enjoy digital cinema.

"Though, the answers to these queries will emerge in the time to come, it looks like we are getting there," said Al Barton VP, Sony Pictures Entertainment, USA. He added, "Last year we were here speculating the specifications laid down to go digital but this time for people involved in the film business, we are here really to discuss how more countries have start adopting to digital screens. The systems which have worked in the US can also be applied in other parts of the world, in spite of the fact that the scenario does is differ from region to region. Like, France has independent producers and Germany is a country where most of the prints are used twice in the country. So, we'll have to come to a flexible solution for digital films being distributed across the world."

The opening session also looked at the various technological challenges that the digital world will pose for the industry. Equipment manufacturers will have to invest in compatible equipment so as to help theatrical projectors to create a uniform and compatible digital cinema. But hopefully, as the market gets more competitive, the price of the equipment and its installation which were previously thought to be a major barrier to digital cinema will become increasingly affordable.

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