China readies digital cinema server

Low-cost, d-cinema system may draw exhib and studio attention

China expects to unveil a top-flight digital cinema server in June, which could offer a cheaper way of distributing digital movies than methods being developed.

“Our digital cinema servers will enable Chinese audiences to … enjoy high-resolution digital movies from the world’s leading studios,” Zhang Baoquan, chairman of Time Antaeus, a Chinese digital cinema equipment provider, told the China Daily.

The server’s lower pricetag could prove interesting if the equipment passes muster. A big impediment to switching to digital projection has been the cost of technology. Exhibitors are unwilling to spend to upgrade and the studios don’t want to pick up the tab.

Zhang said a Time Antaeus server costs around $18,600, which is considerably cheaper than other servers, which cost around $100,000.

A low-cost, d-cinema system would be extremely attractive in China, which is vast, under-developed and hellbent on catching up with the rest of the world.

He said it would also help Chinese films find better outlets abroad.

The Chinese say the new equipment is based on the standard developed by the Digital Cinema Initiatives, a consortium of Hollywood studios and vendors formed to establish a standard for digital cinema systems.

“We have gained the core technology for the server through our research, and in the rest of the year we will devote ourselves to further improving the system, upgrading the efficiency and cutting the cost,” Zhang said.

The studios have been pushing for digital cinema, a method to deliver movies in a digital format, to help get auds back into theaters.

The Chinese server has been jointly developed by Time Antaeus and the Institute of Computer Technology, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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