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Hollywood, CA,—Mar 8, 2006

Kodak to introduce new flexible digital cinema player

Kodak CineServer is designed to play all formats, provide new industry capability
Kodak is demonstrating the first commercial version of its versatile new Kodak CineServer JMN3000, a digital cinema playback unit that handles JPEG and MPEG-compressed movies, including 3D MPEG features, automatically, and connects to the powerful Kodak network. The Kodak demonstrations are taking place at ShoWest, the industry convention and trade show, March 13 – 17, in Las Vegas.

“Six months ago, Kodak provided detailed data on our capability to handle two compression formats in one server,” said Les Moore, chief technology officer for Kodak Digital Cinema, “and since then, it’s become clear that a multi-compression format server will be the industry’s choice. This is the first one to include Kodak Image Science, and the first to take full advantage of the capability built in to the Kodak network.”

The Kodak network is the only one designed to handle a full theatrical presentation – from pre-show through features.

As the industry has wrestled with the challenges inherent in the widespread adoption of digital cinema, it has recognized that image files will need to be compressed for efficient distribution. Although MPEG compression is in widespread use today, it does not meet the specifications set by the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) consortium.

“DCI specified that it must be possible for the feature movie to be mastered at 4K resolution – to preserve all the detail inherent in the film original – and to be played back on either 4K or 2K projectors,” Moore said. “MPEG compression won’t handle that, but the JPEG2000 compression format will -- and so major Studios are adopting JPEG.”

Still, Moore points out, there will be a lot of MPEG-compressed material – including independent movies, documentaries, local language presentations, and other content – in the market for a long time. Much of that will be played through the same systems, on the same screens, in the same multiplexes, as the major Studio releases. Exhibitors can’t afford dual systems.

“Our new CineServer recognizes the different compression schemes and plays the right one, automatically,” Moore says.

This new product can be used as a standalone unit, but to give exhibitors the full power of digital cinema, it’s designed to be an integral component of the Kodak network. Here is the way the network functions in the digital cinema environment.

At Kodak’s Network Operations Center, the feature movie and trailers are encrypted, compressed, packaged, and sent via hard disk drive -- or satellite – to the theatre. Decryption keys, as well as pre-show content, are sent via DSL line, or DVD, and everything loads into the theatre’s central server.

In the theatre, the Kodak network is connected to the ticketing system, so it receives the show schedule and stages all content – pre-show, trailers, features, and other content – on the right screen.

In each auditorium, a Kodak CineServer is connected to a cinema-grade projector. The Kodak unit receives and ingests the presentation, decrypts and decompresses the content, ‘unwraps’ the movie (to play the correct language and image format, for example) and sends it to the projector to play. Barco is Kodak’s projector partner; Kodak demonstrations at ShoWest include Barco’s D-Cine Premiere Range projectors.

“We’ve designed our server for high reliability, but also for ease of use,” said Moore. The CineServer will be mounted in the booth rack, which often restricts operator access. We’ve made our graphical user interface screen detachable, so it can be put anywhere it’s convenient for the operator to use it.”

The GUI screen can be used for a range of functions, including creating show playlists in each auditorium; or, via the Kodak network, schedules can be created centrally in the theatre or downloaded remotely from corporate headquarters. “Our operating software lets the system work the way our customers want to work,” Moore said.

The Kodak CineServer is designed to evolve, as DCI specifications are turned into industry standards.

“Until SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) publishes the standards and independent agencies can provide certification, no company can claim full compliance,” Moore said. “But, as all that happens – and it will – we will make the upgrades necessary to make the CineServer compliant. We support high standards; we’ve always done that with film and we intend to do that in the digital environment.”

Kodak is taking orders now for the Kodak CineServer JMN3000. It will be a worldwide product.

About Kodak's Entertainment Imaging: Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging business is the world leader in providing motion picture film and imaging products, services, and technology for the professional motion picture and exhibition industries. Kodak's Entertainment Imaging Directory page
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