Trondheim—Oct 9, 2007
Europe's largest Digital Cinema test bed set to expand
NORDIC Project Phase II will add new digital cinema servers, focus on satellite transmission and include more remote cinema locations
The NORDIC Project (Norway's Digital Interoperability in Cinemas) has been given the go-ahead and additional funding from Norwegian cinema trade body FILM&KINO to extend Europe's largest digital cinema deployment beta test. The NORDIC Project is together with installations by the NDA group the most concerted effort by a European government to prepare its market for switching over all cinemas, country wide, to digital distribution and display of films, which is set to take place in 2008-09 for Norwegian cinemas.
The NORDIC Project Phase I was completed in May 2007, having received strong support from both the Norwegian film and cinema community, as well as international digital cinema equipment vendors and Hollywood studios. "We are proud to have established good close working relationships with the likes of Sony, Barco, Christie, Dolby, Doremi and others," said Professor Andrew Perkis, whose Midgard Medialab at the renowned Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim spearheaded the technical research, "and they along with the film distributors from Norway and Hollywood have expressed appreciation for the feedback and input that NORDIC has provided them as an objective research partner." NORDIC has carried out the largest in-cimemas trial outside the United States of combining different types of DCI-compliance aspiring server and projector products for the screening of digital films to paying audiences. This helped convince the Norwegian government to make the digitization of all Norwegian cinemas a formal policy aim and priority of the current administration.
As part of the second phase of NORDIC, specific focus will be made on three areas. The first is to include more manufacturers of digital cinema servers, many of whom were not ready with DCI-compliant solutions in time for participation in the first phase of the project. This will now encompass servers that have achieved or applied for FIPS certification, which establishes that the equipment is piracy and tamper-proof. Secondly, a greater number of Norwegian cinemas in small towns and remote locations will get digital equipment, to establish how smaller cinemas can get access to the latest film releases day-and-date with those films opening in the large cities. An all-digital multiplex will also be established in the city of Bergen. Thirdly, NORDIC partner Telenor Satellite Broadcasting has started comprehensive tests of satellite distribution of digital cinema files to cinemas across all of Norway, which will in the future also include more instances of the distribution of alternative content to cinemas.
NORDIC partner Unique Cinema Solution's CTO Dave Spilde commented that "while we are happy with the results of Phase I, which we have shared openly on our website (www.NORDICproject.org), there was a consensus that there were additional areas that required deeper understanding to enable the entire Norwegian cinema industry to make the big digital switch." As a result of the expanded project, NORDIC will have rolled out a total of 23 digital cinema screens, which together with NDA's 17 screens, gives Norway a total of 40 digital cinema installations. "As a proportion of total cinema screen, this puts Norway on the same level as the United States, where to-date around 10 per cent of all cinema screens have gone digital," notes Spilde.
Details of the NORDIC Project Phase II will be announced at the Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF) in late October and will also be published on the projects website: www.NORDICproject.org