BURBANK, Calif.—Mar 8, 2006
Thomson Unveils World’s Largest Digital Cinema Test Center in Preparation For
Extensive North American Digital Cinema Deployment
Company’s Technicolor Digital Cinema Unit Opens State-of-the-Art Testing
Facility to Evaluate Performance, Reliability, and Functionality of Digital
Projectors and Servers from Major Hardware OEMs
Reinforcing its global leadership in digital
cinema, Thomson (Euronext 18453; NYSE: TMS) today announced that its Technicolor
Digital Cinema business, part of the Services division of Thomson, has opened
the world’s largest digital cinema research and equipment testing facility at
the Technicolor campus in Burbank, Calif. The announcement was made by Joe
Berchtold, president of Technicolor Electronic Distribution Services and head of
Technicolor Digital Cinema, in conjunction with an official unveiling of the
facility held this morning exclusively for business, financial, and trade media
outlets covering the digital cinema space.
In preparation for the company’s North American digital cinema deployment, the
Technicolor Digital Cinema Test Center was established to evaluate the
performance, reliability, and functionality of digital projectors, servers, and
related hardware from major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The results
of the comprehensive testing and analysis conducted in the state-of-the-art
facility will determine the projector and server configurations to be deployed
during Technicolor Digital Cinema’s widely-anticipated commercial beta test,
scheduled to begin in the first half of 2006 in 200-250 screens across North
“The opening of the Technicolor Digital Cinema Test Center represents another
significant achievement for Thomson and its digital cinema plans, and stands as
a critical benchmark for the media and entertainment industries as this major
technology transition advances forward,” said Joe Berchtold, president of
Technicolor Electronic Distribution Services, and head of Technicolor Digital
Cinema. “Thomson firmly believes that the long-term success of digital cinema is
dependent upon the consistent, reliable performance of digital projection
equipment at the very high levels that studios, exhibitors, and moviegoers
require. The Technicolor Digital Cinema Test Center was specifically designed
with these expectations in mind. As a result, it is the primary objective of
this facility to comprehensively evaluate digital projectors and servers from a
wide range of manufacturers, and then determine which pieces of hardware meet
these rigorous standards and are suitable for widespread deployment.”
The Technicolor Digital Cinema Test Center is located at the corner of Thornton
Avenue and North Ontario Street in Burbank, Calif., immediately adjacent to the
extended campus which houses the operations of Technicolor Content Services,
Technicolor Network Services, and Technicolor Electronic Distribution
Services/Technicolor Digital Cinema. The facility consists of small and large
screening theatres serviced by a large equipment and projector bay containing
various digital projectors, servers, and distribution and networking components
currently undergoing evaluation and analysis. In addition, the center features
sophisticated diagnostic devices used to measure equipment performance based on
objective test criteria.
To ensure the integrity and transparency of its research methodology,
Technicolor Digital Cinema first actively solicited the participation of major
hardware developers via an open request for information (RFI) process, followed
by the issuance of formal requests for proposals (RFP) based on OEM interest and
the scope of equipment details provided to the company. Technicolor Digital
Cinema then accepted projectors and servers into its facility for evaluation
based on the quality of RFP submissions, and the willingness of manufacturer
representatives to work closely with staff engineers on test implementations and
their corresponding findings.
For the subsequent hardware analysis conducted in the laboratory, Technicolor
Digital Cinema devised an extensive battery of 144 individual tests, principally
based on the Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI) Digital Cinema System
Specification v. 1.0 and its MXF interoperability test plan. In addition, the
comprehensive assessment sequence was also based on specific requirements set
forth by Technicolor Digital Cinema during the RFP process, and proprietary test
materials, including projector test patterns, server killer patterns, and
network and disk-based content sources, exclusively developed to fully measure
the capabilities of the equipment.
During equipment evaluation and analysis, Technicolor Digital Cinema engineers
examine each device’s ability to efficiently handle such core digital cinema
operations as subtitle display, simultaneous playout and movement, inter-server
movement, automation, 2K and 4K interoperability, alternative content playback,
remote management, 3-D capabilities, and on-screen advertising integration.
Furthermore, the company also tests each unit’s ease of distribution and
back-of-house systems integration, since projectors and servers are required by
the DCI specification to work seamlessly with each other, and with different
distribution and theatre management systems.
Currently, the Technicolor Digital Cinema Test Center is evaluating digital
cinema equipment from the following manufacturers:
- Barco Digital Cinema (P).
- Christie Digital Systems, Inc. (P).
- Dolby Digital Cinema (S).
- Doremi Cinema (S).
- GDC Technology (S) [Not currently received, but interest expressed by GDC
- Kodak Digital Cinema (S).
- NEC Corporation (S) (P).
- QuVIS, Inc. (S).
- Sanyo (P).
- Sony Electronics, Inc. (P) (S) [Integrated projector with QuVis server].
- Sony Electronics, Inc. (P) (S) [Integrated projector with Sony server].
(S) = Digital Cinema Server; (P) = Digital Projector.
As previously announced by Thomson, Technicolor Digital Cinema, following the
successful completion of the aforementioned beta test, plans an initial
deployment of complete digital projection systems in up to 5,000 DCI-compliant
screens over the next 3-4 years. It is the strategic intent of the company to
introduce systems into at least 15,000 digitally-equipped screens in the United
States and Canada over the next 10 years through the preliminary rollout and
additional phases. The company recently reached an understanding with Century
Theatres, Inc. which calls for the theatre chain to participate in the beta
test, with the expectation that Century will then participate in the broader
In the fourth quarter of 2005, Thomson signed digital cinema equipment usage
agreements with DreamWorks SKG, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century
Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros to advance its plans for the
distribution of digital cinema content and systems throughout North America.
Currently, Thomson is in late-stage negotiations with New Line Cinema and The
Weinstein Company concerning similar deals, and it expects these studios to be
part of the initial deployment. Thomson will also reveal its specific digital
cinema plans for the United Kingdom and Western Europe in the coming months.