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Technicolor, Qualcomm hew to digital hues

Digital Cinema company to deal with image quality, encryption, compression

Hoping to secure its own future in a more digital film world, Technicolor has stepped up to the digital plate, teaming with wireless giant Qualcomm to create what it hopes will become a standard for pics sent from studios to a theater’s digital projector using either the Web or satellites.

Jointly managed by the two companies, Technicolor Digital Cinema will market itself as a technology enabler and service provider to ease Hollywood’s transition into digital delivery.

Venture will be based out of Technicolor’s Studio City offices.

Basically, Qualcomm will provide the encryption and compression technology to securely transfer full-length pics to screens, while Technicolor will ensure the protection of image quality.

Test dates

New delivery system will be tested in early 2001, with equipment expected to be commercially available by the middle of next year, with licenses made available to other equipment manufacturers.

Although reliant upon traditional film for much of its business, Technicolor is trying to use the new venture to remain a powerhouse for processing when film does eventually move across digital lines. Technicolor is hoping its ties to Hollywood and other respected offerings will help sell the service.

Technicolor will maintain a majority ownership of the new company.

“This new entity will combine the two companies’ complementary strengths to create an open, standards-based, end-to-end distribution solution for digital cinema,” Technicolor CEO Lanny Raimondo said.

Guarding quality

“Bringing together Technicolor’s 80-plus-year legacy as the guardians of color and quality for the motion picture industry with Qualcomm’s digital technology expertise, the joint venture is committed to taking a leading role in safeguarding a movie’s image and audio quality to enhance the overall moviegoing experience,” Raimondo added.

Camarillo-based Technicolor is the largest processor of motion picture film and indie manufacturer of DVDs, CDs and homevids.

Qualcomm, based in San Diego, is best known for its digital wireless communications products and services such as cell phones and its satellite-based Globalstar equipment system.

Recently, the company has been trying to infiltrate entertainment space, inking deals with players, including film giant Eastman Kodak. In March, Qualcomm and Kodak said they would develop a similar digital projection prototype, using Qualcomm’s tech services and Kodak’s Imaging Technology Center in Hollywood.

Although Qualcomm is working with both Kodak and Technicolor, the two deals aren’t competing with each other: The Kodak one involves only a small part of Qualcomm encryption technology, while the Technicolor project is the creation of a company and has a broader mandate.

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