Digital cinema, 3D and business

Digital cinema, and in particular 3D, is all the rage right now. But does this technology have a place in business? We investigate.

As well as potentially saving the studios millions of dollars per year, digital will also give suitably equipped cinemas the flexibility to deliver a far greater breadth of content than just movies.

If you're looking for variety, how about super high-resolution surgery? In Norway, Sony's 4K resolution projectors, boasting high colour accuracy and with four times the resolution of regular 2K resolution digital cinema, were used to broadcast live endovascular surgery to a team of 200 doctors who were all at once able to view and learn a procedure in greater detail than they otherwise would have been able to.

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The VPF

However, while the benefits of digital cinema are clear, the digital dream that Lord Puttnam has envisioned won't come for free. The high cost of digital projection equipment means that it's prohibitively expensive for all but the largest cinema chains to undertake themselves. As such, it's business deals that are enabling the spread of digital technology. These deals that are enabling the industry to move forward are known as Virtual Print Fee, or VPF deals.

In a VPF deal the costs are shared by all the interested parties rather than having only one party having to bear the burden. The digital projector is licensed to the exhibitor by the projector manufacturer, with a contribution also made by a film studio. The VPF deals also pay not just for the initial installation but for the on-going costs of running that projector too.

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David McIntosh, financial director for Sony Professional Europe explained the benefits to IT PRO. "The exhibitors really want to move to digital. It offers so much greater efficiency in terms of getting content," he said.

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