DCI announces digital, 3-D specs

Cinecert to finish developing test procedures

Digital cinema took another step toward the mainstream Sunday as Digital Cinema Initiatives announced a new version of its d-cinema specifications, its first-ever specs for 3-D and the selection of technology company Cinecert to finish developing test procedures for DCI compliance.

Announcement came on the second day of the Digital Cinema Summit at NAB.

The DCI, a joint venture of the studios, did not originally anticipate the 3-D boom that has grown out of digital cinema and was silent on 3-D technical specifications. As a result, incompatible 3-D systems have proliferated.

Studios releasing a film in 3-D have since had to create as many as seven different 3-D digital cinema “packages.”

Digital cinema consultant David Reisner said that Sunday’s announcement, which is a one-page addendum to the DCI specs, would put the business on notice that there should be “only one format for distribution, not multiple formats for distribution.”

Which format wins out, though, remains to be seen.

The selection of Cinecert as DCI’s testing company moves the industry a step closer to answering one of the major questions remaining for d-cinema: Who will decide whether a product can be called “DCI-compliant”?

The question is vital to manufacturers, because there is little market for non-DCI-compliant d-cinema hardware, and exhibitors need assurances their expensive d-cinema hardware will work as advertised.

DCI had contracted with a German research institute, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, to develop tests for DCI compliance. Cinecert has a six-month contract to complete the work Fraunhofer started and to develop a set of testing procedures and standard tests. Once Cinecert has finished, DCI will choose testing entities.

Version 1.1 of the DCI spec introduces nothing new, but incorporates the many errata that have been compiled as users have begun to apply the DCI spec.

By putting those errata into the main body of the spec, rather than dozens of addenda, “This makes it much, much, much easier for someone who wants to know what the DCI spec is and makes it much easier for anyone who needs to use that spec to conduct business,” says Reisner.

It also was announced on Sunday which studios would take over the leadership roles in DCI after the current leadership term expires at the end of September.

Now, Universal is the tech leader and Paramount is the management leader. In October, Sony takes over tech leadership and Warners takes over management leadership.

The lead studios decide which of their execs will work on DCI projects and coordinate with the other studios when an issue requires the attention of all.