The following paper was given by Hugh Heinsohn at a SMPTE conference in April of 2000. Nearly 10 years later, April of 2010, the first fully SMPTE-standards-based digital movie presentations will be distributed. It will likely take another full year to fully leave the current InterOp stage, as mandated by many studio VPF agreements (and the logic of being able to receive their movies.)
Hugh was looking into technology which wouldn’t be decided upon for several years. The decision to JPEG-2000 was certainly 4 or 5 years away, with resulted in R&D hell for the MPEG-based companies, those which did much to carry the industry during its many development years…actually leading to the demise of several.
The paper mentions JVC’s reflective liquid crystal technology, wouldn’t mature into prime-time availability for 7 years…and that by different company. Not only did JVC leave the field, but other large companies with large early investments like Qualcomm and Boeing walked away, perhaps recognizing the length of time before that their investments would come to fruition.
In fact, over half the manufacturers in the links at the end of the article are gone, one way or the other. Other companies,noteably DTS and Kodak, who made their investments later, have also left, which others such as Technicolor have scaled back.
Without further comment, this is a report that Hugh wrote, and memorably delivered well, to an appreciative audience – looking 10 years into the future. Hugh is now runs marketing plans for several entertainment technology companies. You can contact him via HughCan.
SMPTE Point of View
Digital Cinema and the Coming of the Apocalypse
Updated 18 April 2000
Abstract: Digital cinema has finally become a real possibility due to recent advances in electronic projection technology. Various industry organizations, equipment manufacturers and studios are working to develop practical systems that will be used to replace film as the primary distribution medium for feature films. This paper presents one person’s observations and perspectives on the potentials and pitfalls of digital cinema for the technical community involved with producing and distributing movies.