Oct 01
GO DIGITAL GO by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Mon, Oct 1, 2012

September is a red-letter month for the cinemas. This month of 2012 signals the start of the digital projector’s supremacy over the traditional film projector in local cinemas. This is actually a phasing in of the digital and the phasing out of the film.

In partnership with DCinema (Digital Cinema), SM theaters will be equipped with state of the art digital projectors. The project is fully supported by FDCP (Film Development Council of the Philippines).

The estimated cost of a modern digital projector using DCP (Digital Cinema Package) is US$ 200,000. That would include the entire system – projector, computer and the hard disks for storage.

But the huge investment is worth it according to advocates of technology because the use of digital projectors would make the movie industry free of piracy. With DCP, there is an encryption system and a security system called KDM (Key Delivery Message).


A digital projector that is attached to a computer for playing a protected digital movie file

Each digital projector (that is connected to a computer system) has a unique KDM which works for a definite period of time. This means that the movie file in DCP can only be played in that specific theater and for a specified period of time.

When the period lapses, the digital movie file (inside the DCP) will not be serviceable anymore. And the movie file with an expired validity is protected against copying (illegal reproduction).

A DCP is actually a set of digital files – audio and video streams plus the index files. The DCP is just like a container of movie files created after the post production phase – it is actually a matter of converting the files into the desired format.

During the creation of the DCP, the cinemas (where the movie is intended to be shown) should already have been defined at this point. The definition would indicate the system ID of the cinema’s computer system (where the projector is attached).

The digital movie files can be stored in hard disks. But for portability, it can also be stored in USB (Universal Serial Bus) that can be copied onto the cinema’s computer. Just take note that a full length movie can exceed the prevailing USB capacity at present.

Once copied into the theater’s computer/projector system, the movie file can be played for a specified period of time. In cases of extension of showing (for hit movies), an updated version of the KDM needs to be sent to that particular theater.

As regards the quality of projection, the digital projector is at par with the traditional film projector. And as time goes by, it is assumed that the upgrades would be much better than the present standard of luminosity.

This digital projector system is like pitting technology against technology. At the dawning of the digital age, the copying of files has become the bane of the music industry and eventually of the movie industry.

With the participation of internet users, the unabated free exchange of digital files, not limited to music and movies, is a direct assault on copyright protection. There is practically no regulatory measures existing in the internet.

The first one to make a concrete move against illegal copying was the BSA (Business Software Alliance). Their primary targets were the big corporations that use computer software for business purposes.

Aside from the random visits (a subtle term to mean raid) of BSA representatives, software makers started incorporating a security system in their products. This paved the way for a tight control of illegal users.

Now, installing a software normally requires validation with the maker’s website (via internet). Although there are still free software in the internet with a license called “shareware,” the validation method had greatly minimized the illegal use of software.

With the DCP, the maker, i.e. the producer of the movie, can incorporate a code that is specific to a particular projector (actually a computer). So when the movie is delivered by mistake to a wrong cinema, it wouldn’t play.

The digital cinema package is the last nail to the coffin of the traditional film. Movie cameras using film has become obsolete and film companies like Kodak and Fuji were already shifting to other products since a decade ago.


The cans containing film reels that are carried by Lagaristas to and from theaters for sharing

The advancement in technology had made obsolete not only the old cameras (using film) but also out of the picture now are the ‘lagaristas’. They are the guys on bikes who facilitate the sharing of film reels by theaters.

When the year 2012 ends, we shall witness the success or failure of the cinema’s digital projector system in SM theaters. So let’s cross our fingers.

Comments to this article can be sent to ajsocorro@yahoo.com


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