Since 2004, North Carolina-based Microspace has worked with Paramount’s Dreamworks SKG to deliver films like Shrek 2, Collateral and Shark Tale to theaters in North America. Microspace integrated forward error correction software from Kencast to help its satellite-based D-cinema solution to deliver a base 99.95 percent availability.
“Wide distribution of a single movie file to many theaters will be done by satellite, and with a reliable enough multicast system, modest return-link capacity will be used to certify delivery,” says William Steele, President of Connecticut-based Kencast Inc.
Initially, the files delivered were in the range of 50 to 100 gigabytes. Now the files are likely to be closer to 200 to300 gigabytes and technology must improve to help deliver the larger files, Steele adds. “The ability to transcode quickly, even in real time, to smaller formats means the movies can be distributed directly to hotels, cable, direct-to-home services and even mobile handsets with the need to continue ongoing extensions of the network infrastructure as these markets emerge.”
Although satellite distribution of D-cinema content remains largely unchanged, the way the content is encoded and encrypted is changing, says Curt Tilly, Manager of D-cinema distribution at Microspace. “With JPEG encoding we are seeing D-cinema (files) that are two to four times the size of the first MPEG-encoded (files) we delivered,” he says. “Because the packages are now encrypted to a standard specification, we receive and deliver all content in an encrypted form.”
Other big D-cinema system changes underway involve support for multiple screens, and Tilly sees satellite distribution playing a major part in these new systems. “While satellite distribution certainly saves money for independent theater owners, the big cost in the transition really remains the projector, server and back room systems that support digital presentation,” he says. “Satellite will provide the opportunity for additional revenue for these smaller exhibitors with alternative content choices, and this might be enough of an incentive to move to digital. Satellite carries the added benefit of keeping the workflow entirely digital. Using satellite means that studios and exhibitors do not have to inventory, duplicate, track, ship, ingest and return hard drives.”