Global digital cinema technology leader Barco continually develops new technologies to further shape the cinema of the future and to improve the moviegoing experience. In close collaboration with both industrial and academic partners, Barco is participating in several research programs funded by the European Union, the Flemish government, and the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT).
Two of these projects have recently led to successful technology demonstrations. In one project, in which the opportunities of the future internet are being explored, Barco successfully streamed standard 4K cinema content from a server in one location to a theater in another location, via a high-bandwidth connection. Barco is also participating in funded research on user acceptance of laser illuminated projection, in which a test panel has concluded tests on image quality.
“As a digital cinema technology leader, we continually invest in new technologies that benefit the entire cinema industry and the moviegoing experience – not only by developing our own innovative products and solutions, but also by participating in funded research programs and via strategic partnerships with cross-industry research groups,” says Wim Buyens, Senior Vice President of Barco's Entertainment Division. “Our cinema streaming demo illustrates that - in the cinema of the future – it will be possible to stream cinema content over the internet from one location to a digital cinema projector installed remotely. What’s more, our participation in laser research projects is giving us more critical insight into the matter, which will definitely benefit the development of our laser projector.”
Laser projection demo
To better understand user perception of laser illuminated projection, Barco engaged in a research project conducted by the iMinds-SMIT research center and the Department of Applied Physics and Photonics (TONA) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). As opposed to earlier laser projection demos, which were conducted with an audience of professionals and cinema owners, this was the first controlled test with actual moviegoers. Set in a real cinema auditorium, the test audience was asked to evaluate the image quality of laser projection via a voting system that included both blind and active testing. The test also included focus group interviews to capture an in-depth discussion of the quality of the movie experience with laser projection. The results of these tests will support Barco in developing a laser illuminated projector to deliver the ultimate movie experience.
Cinema streaming demo
The cinema streaming demo was part of the FI-PPP’s (Future Internet Public-Private Partnership Programme) FI-CONTENT research project on use cases for the future internet. In close collaboration with research partners from the telecom and networking sectors, Barco designed this technology showcase, which was funded by the European Union. Barco streamed 4K cinema content from a cinema server in Ghent, Belgium, to a Barco digital cinema projector installed at a theater in Kortrijk, Belgium. Using the existing network infrastructure between the two remote locations and inside the theater, a sufficient quality of service was achieved to stream and project the Digital Cinema Package complying with industry specifications.
Benefits of streaming over the future high-bandwidth internet
Compared to existing content delivery methods - such as hard disk or satellite connection - streaming over the future high-bandwidth internet opens up endless possibilities for all players in the cinema industry. For cinema exhibitors using satellite receivers today, building permits and complex installations would no longer be necessary. What’s more, centralized content scheduling, programming and streaming from one location in the cinema chain would also be possible. As it would enable them to centralize content storage and playback, studios and distributors could benefit from the future high-bandwidth internet as well. They could also set up an online library of back catalog movie classics that could easily be consulted and programmed by theater owners.
SMIT stands for Studies on Media, Information and Telecommunication. The research center, founded in 1990 at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is part of iMinds. With a current staff of over 60 researchers, SMIT specializes in social science research on media and ICT, with an emphasis on innovation, policy and socio-economic questions. SMIT research combines user, policy and business analysis with both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. In order to develop new methodological tools, a continuing dialectic between theory and empirical research is one of the center’s high-level objectives.
The Department of Applied Physics and Photonics (TONA) is part of the Faculty of Engineering (FirW) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Forming a multinational community of more than 65 people, the group pursues excellence in education, research, and valorization in the exciting domain of photonics. TONA is uniquely involved in many industry-oriented research projects with Flemish and European companies.
Funded by the European Union, the FI-CONTENT project of the FI-PPP (Future Internet Public-Private Partnership Programme) aims at transforming the possibilities for the next-generation internet. With input from five important content areas – including future uses of AV, games, web, metadata and user-created content – a consortium of major content providers, gaming companies, hardware vendors, network operators, broadcasters, research institutes and academia was created to propose a number of innovative scenarios for new forms of content. The project focuses on five key areas for improving today’s internet: better Quality of Service (QoS) and experience; direct internet connectivity (a serverless world); usage beyond a static text-, plug-in-, browser-based approach; better tracking of content; and the ability to provide support, failover and resilience across different providers (e.g. between mobile devices, countries, or different access points (e.g. home to library).