Below is blog post written by me about 3D Digital Projection System in India in Indieshd.com,
One often quoted advantage of making one’s film in 3D is that “2D contents can be pirated … 3D cannot be!”
This adage is true to the extent that even if the best ‘camera print (sic)’ of a film’s theatrical release find its way to the illegal CD/DVD circuits, people would still have to go to Cinema theaters to get a good 3D film experience. Yet, this shall prove false in Indian Cinema in the near future. Providers of Film Content Encoding for theaters are jumping into the 3D bandwagon with unacceptable image compression and zero security features. It is not just that they compromise on quality … they put the creativity of the filmmakers open to piracy says Jijo, Director Chota Chetan.
He adds that Devoid of a proper HDCP in the MPEG picture stream played out from the operators cinema server, anybody in the projection cabin can record Stereo Image Pairs (which makes the 3D picture) onto two low-cost consumer camcorders with HDMI input. A teenager with basic computer skills can convert this file/s for BlueRay DVD or for the now exploding 3D ready TV market. Thus, once ‘filmgoers’ start seeing brand new 3D films within the comforts of their homes, filmmakers would realize that the old adage is no more valid
With more & more cinema screens across india converting to digital cinema projection, all is not well with projection quality of secondary projection system practiced in india called E-Cinema, which projects in resolution of 1K (1280x720p) or 1080p (1920x1080p) with mpeg-2(QUBE) or mpeg-4(UFO)format, where as DCI(Digital Cinema Initiative) suggests projecting cinema digitally @ 2K (2048×1080) in 24 or 48fps in Jpeg2000 format called as D-Cinema. For both 2D/3D.
With cost of of D-Cinema coming down and more films from Hollywood releasing in 3D only in D-Cinema, adaption rate is faster for D-Cinema even in smaller towns. But E-Cinema spread across india in last 5years with more than 5000 screens for 2D and they are coming out with E-Cinema 3d to theaters with less cost involvement for theatre owners.
For last 1 year with more and more films especially Hollywood films releasing in 3D, which supports D-Cinema only, Indian 3D films and Independent(Non Studio) hollywood films start supporting e-cinema 3d which makes two companies aggressively promoting e-cinema 3d in India.
Qube’s E-Cinema 3D, which runs @ 48 FPS 1920×1080 MPEG-2 at 120 Mbps, where left & right eye is individually watermarked and each output has HDCP with projector locking for twin projectors.
UFO’s E-Cinema 3D, does side-by-side Left & Right eyes within one 1920×1080 frame @ MPEG-4, roughly @ 8 Mbps. The output goes to a 3D processor (splitter) to separate into two outputs for twin projectors.
In December 2010, ‘My Dear Kuttichattan – special edition’ (Tamil) released across Tamil Nadu with more than 55 Screens in e-cinema 3D projection system provided by QUBE Digital Cinema Company using twin 1080p Projectors & Silver Screen. Same film being released in Malayalam using QUBE E-Cinema 3D across Kerala in September 2011.
Recently was asked to evaluate UFO E-Cinema 3D by UFO Moviez for release in Kerala for the above said film for e-cinema projection.
First and foremost when I saw their output in their chennai office, Asked few questions about the security of content, since they use splitter to project both left & right eyes to twin projectors, technicians there don’t have any idea about the technology used and asked to come back later and they never come back.
Issues with UFO E-Cinema 3D are as follows at present (since it’s in R&D and not out fully)
Splitter to split images without any security (they call it as 3D processor)
Visible Watermarking on one eye
Stretching the movie which was encoded to fit both left & right eye in single 1080p frame, which is similar to what Samsung, LG or Sony 3DTV use to play 3D content in the 3DTelevision, which looses resolution for bigger screen and long throw projections.
With above all, I believe they don’t even use any security for existing 2D films too with clear visible watermarking system.
Issues with E-Cinema 3D systems in general
Cost can’t dictate quality, which is at present in India.
Image compressions used in current e-cinema systems needs to be improved. My suggestion is to use same compression used in D-cinema which is Jpeg2000 with current e- cinema resolution of 1K or 1080p.
Filmmakers need to be consider at every aspect, there is common issue by DOPs over the quality of e-cinema system across india.
Filmmakers put 2 to 3 times more money & effort than 2D for creating 3D films and their consideration is utmost priority for 3D release, which includes consistent checking of 3D projection and handling of 3D polarized glasses
I believe there needs to be robust, secure, resolution and experience for digital cinema projection in theaters which will only can separate 1080p HD channels on DTH platforms & Cinema theaters, else the battle is on for TV vs Web rather than Cinema Theaters.
I’m not against E-Cinema rather, when hearing complains from DOP’s across India about bad digital cinema projection which they can do much about this in release times left with no options, I try to remind them it’s not D-Cinema and its only e-cinema which we create for our own convenience & cost leads to that which they are not ready to listen and complaint about the entire digital cinema projection.
Note: This blog post is no way to support or against any company and the issues regarding quality vs resolution vs security of content for filmmakers are utmost important and also for future of experiencing cinema in theaters rather than in TV via DTH, Youtube & Vimeo.