Fitting digital to a T

Deutsche subsid touts end-to-end distrib'n

German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom is diving into digital cinema, with subsid T-Systems about to unveil an end-to-end digital distribution solution and already pitching its system to major studios.

The T-Systems service addresses digital production and digital distribution by connecting studios in Los Angeles with European theaters and filmmakers shooting in Europe.

T-Systems has already demonstrated its technology to several major studios, including Disney and Warner Bros., and is in contact with others.

Wolfgang Ruppel, T-Systems head of development for digital cinema, stressed that the company’s approach is different from other providers’ failed end-to-end solutions. “They’ve propagated a closed system with proprietary technology,” he said. “We’re committed to an open, standards-based solution, so you can exchange some components of the chain. We can connect to servers from other vendors, for example.”

Company said its system complies with the specs of the Digital Cinema Initiatives, a joint venture of the major studios to establish voluntary technical specifications for digital cinema.

“We are able to offer this solution all over the world,” said Ruppel. “The focus will be on Europe in the first stage, but we can offer this in the United States as well.”

DCI chief technology officer Walt Ordway called T-Systems’ entry into the digital cinema arena a very positive development. He said the entire industry stands to benefit when any company comes in as an end-to-end provider.

Parts of the T-Systems solution have been rolled out over the past few months, but new move marks the bow of its complete integrated system.

Ordway has seen demos of some of the T-Systems equipment and has been impressed with the company’s willingness to work with exhibs to make its controls user-friendly.

T-Systems will offer customers a choice of delivery by satellite or secure fiber-optic network.

The rest of the chain includes the German-based Digital Cinema Factory play-out center, an in-theater server compatible with all the 2K digital cinema projectors on the market, and the Texas Instruments’ CineLink security management and CineCanvas image management systems.

The DCI will bring out an extended version of its specifications that will address in-theater security issues. Ruppel said T-Systems is committed in principle to complying with those specs.

Company is not entirely new to digital distribution, having beamed some live concerts and movie trailers to theaters, but this move marks its first major push into movies.

T-Systems will demo its system from 3-5 p.m. Friday at USC’s Digital Cinema Laboratory, with a Q&A to follow.

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