Barco has announced that it is participating in several research programs related to digital cinema and funded by the European Union, the Flemish government, and the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT).
Two of these projects have recently led to successful technology demonstrations. In one project, in which the opportunities of the future internet are being explored, Barco successfully streamed standard 4K cinema content from a server in one location to a theatre in another location, via a high-bandwidth connection.
Barco is also participating in funded research on user acceptance of laser illuminated projection, in which a test panel has concluded tests on image quality.
“As a digital cinema technology leader, we continually invest in new technologies that benefit the entire cinema industry and the moviegoing experience – not only by developing our own innovative products and solutions, but also by participating in funded research programs and via strategic partnerships with cross-industry research groups,” said Wim Buyens, senior vice president of Barco's Entertainment Division. “Our cinema streaming demo illustrates that - in the cinema of the future – it will be possible to stream cinema content over the internet from one location to a digital cinema projector installed remotely. What’s more, our participation in laser research projects is giving us more critical insight into the matter, which will definitely benefit the development of our laser projector.”
To better understand user perception of laser illuminated projection, Barco engaged in a research project conducted by the iMinds-SMIT research centre and the Department of Applied Physics and Photonics (TONA) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). As opposed to earlier laser projection demos, which were conducted with an audience of professionals and cinema owners, this was the first controlled test with actual moviegoers. Set in a real cinema auditorium, the test audience was asked to evaluate the image quality of laser projection via a voting system that included both blind and active testing. The test also included focus group interviews to capture an in-depth discussion of the quality of the movie experience with laser projection. The results of these tests will, said Barco, support the company in developing a laser illuminated projector to deliver the ultimate movie experience.
The cinema streaming demo was part of the FI-PPP’s (Future Internet Public-Private Partnership Programme) FI-CONTENT research project on use cases for the future internet. In close collaboration with research partners from the telecom and networking sectors, Barco designed this technology showcase, which was funded by the European Union. Barco streamed 4K cinema content from a cinema server in Ghent, Belgium, to a Barco digital cinema projector installed at a theatre in Kortrijk, Belgium. Using the existing network infrastructure between the two remote locations and inside the theatre, a sufficient quality of service was achieved to stream and project the Digital Cinema Package complying with industry specifications.
Compared to existing content delivery methods - such as hard disk or satellite connection - streaming over the future high-bandwidth internet opens up endless possibilities for all players in the cinema industry, according to Barco. For cinema exhibitors using satellite receivers today, building permits and complex installations would no longer be necessary. What’s more, centralised content scheduling, programming and streaming from one location in the cinema chain would also be possible. As it would enable them to centralize content storage and playback, studios and distributors could benefit from the future high-bandwidth internet as well, said the company, noting that they could also set up an online library of back catalogue movie classics that could easily be consulted and programmed by theatre owners.