Digital Cinema Distribution Looks to the Sky

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Wed, 02/12/2014 - 10:31 -- Nick Dager

The IDC-DSAT alliance is now six months old.Last September, International Datacasting announced that DSAT Cinema had committed to buy more than 1,000 of its SuperFlex Pro Video Receivers. Since its inception last year, DSAT Cinema, the Eutelsat and dcinex joint venture has used IDC’s technology to deliver more than 300 films and 50 live broadcasts, from iconic locations that include the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre and the Royal Opera House in London. The companies described their relationship as an alliance and a partnership. Digital Cinema Report recently spoke with Walter Capitani, International Datacasting’s vice president of marketing to get an update on the progress they’ve made to date.

Digital Cinema Report: What’s your role at IDC?

Walter Capitani: I have managed IDC’s digital cinema distribution solution from initial concept to become the largest deployed electronic distribution system worldwide.  During this time, the solution expanded to include support for live 3D events, and in 2010, IDC deployed the first worldwide network for 3D live events.

DCR: Six months ago IDC and DSAT Cinema announced that they were joining forces, in part, to “encourage expansion and development of digital cinema satellite technology” around the world. Before we expand on that tell me what percentage of digital cinema content is distributed via satellite as opposed to other methods? 

WC: I’d guess about 30-40 percent.

DCR: Which countries or regions currently lead in satellite delivery and can you explain why? 

Walter Capitani, IDC's vice president of marketingWC: Europe currently has the most comprehensive coverage of satellite delivery. The larger number of theatre chains and distributors in Europe created a competitive environment where multiple service providers emerged and deployed large footprints.

DCR: What hurdles remain to prevent further growth of satellite delivery? 

WC: Satellite delivery will continue to expand as the studios’ preference for worldwide simultaneous releases grows.

DCR: Compared to such industries as international banking, which rely heavily on satellite delivery, the digital cinema market represents a very small niche. Pardon the pun, but what is the upside for satellite delivery of digital cinema content? 

WC: The adoption of digital cinema has increased consumer choice, and as a result I think we’ll see more films released worldwide, which will increase the need for distribution bandwidth. In addition, we’ll see digital cinema packages increase in size as more films are distributed in higher resolutions such as 4K and eventually 8K.  Satellite remains uniquely positioned to deliver these DCPs reliably to thousands of theatre sites across a continent versus terrestrial alternatives.

DCR: More specifically about the IDC-DSAT relationship, what specific technologies do you bring to this endeavor? 

WC: IDC supplies expertise in high-speed file transmission over satellite, providing integrated head-end and receive equipment to DSAT in order that DCPs arrive reliably and error-free in cinemas.  IDC also supports the daily operations of DSAT in order to ensure the network is running trouble-free 24x7.

DCR: How has your partnership progressed? 

WC: The partnership started as straightforward supplier-customer relationship, but as DCP and live event delivery via satellite has become critical, the relationship has deepened such that DSAT has input into IDC’s future products and developments.

DCR: How are responsibilities shared between the two companies? 

WC: Each party brings unique capabilities to the table – DSAT with its expansive network and operational knowledge, and IDC with its R&D, product portfolio, logistics, and deployment expertise.

DCR: We have two important industry trade shows in the next few months – CinemaCon and NAB. What, if any, announcements might we expect from your companies?

WC: We'll have some exciting news coming soon and promise to keep you posted.

DCR: Thank you.