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Digital Cinema Summit Covers the Full Range

The sessions are carefully planned to meet the burgeoning digital needs of today’s filmmakers.

Well, it’s here. The digital world of cinematography has not only arrived, but it’s thriving, stable and energized. The industry is now looking ahead at futuristic ways the new technology can be put to work for today’s cinematographer.

The Digital Cinema Summit offers NAB Show attendees the opportunity to gain a year’s worth of digital cinematography news and information compressed into a jam-packed, two-day symposium. The sessions are carefully planned to meet the burgeoning digital needs of today’s filmmakers.

(click thumbnail)Peter Lude“We’re taking the approach of all aspects of the digital cinema food chain,” said Peter Lude, senior vice president of engineering for Sony’s Broadcast and Business Solutions. “We’re starting with digital cinematography and acquiring images and working through post production and the digital intermediary process and moving on to packaging, distribution and then how it’s distributed into theaters.”

The summit is co-produced by SMPTE and is in association with Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). David Wertheimer, executive director for ETC, said his organization is looking forward to the two-day, highly concentrated symposium.

“This is a must-attend event for people who are interested in the evolution of digital cinema for its implications on production and distribution in the future,” Wertheimer said.


Lude serves on SMPTE’s Board of Governors and is the board’s editorial vice president. Both roles allow him to play a significant role in forming the content of this weekend’s summit activities.

One of the biggest challenges facing digital cinema today, Lude said, is the transition from 2K to 4K imaging. Canon’s Larry Thorpe helps kick-off the weekend conference with “Digital Cinematography: From HD to 4K,” Saturday, 8:45–10 a.m.

While most of today’s digital imagery is gathered using 2K, a close relative to the home-theater’s high-definition standard, new cameras for acquiring images are pushing the limits of what can be accomplished.

“Within the last year, there have been some marked developments with 4K, which provides four times the resolution of high-definition television,” Lude said. “So we’ll be hearing a lot about that.”

Following this session, a three-person panel consisting of Curtis Clark, president and CEO, ASC; Lou Levinson, senior colorist, Post Logic Studios; and Josh Pines, vice president of imaging research and development, Technicolor Digital Intermediates, will lead “Report from ASC: Look Management and its Relationship to Digital Cameras.” The session will explore visual consistency throughout the process, from controlling the photographic vision with digital cameras through production and post.

From 11 a.m.–noon, “Stereoscopic Movie Making,” specifically as it relates to post production, takes center stage. Buzz Hays, senior VFX producer for Sony Imageworks, will moderate the session that consists of “some of the real experts in the field of creating 3D content” Lude said. These include Jim Mainard, head of production development for DreamWorks Animation; Steve Schklair of 3ality Digital Systems; and David C. Seigle, president of In-Three Inc.

“News from DCI” will take place at 2 p.m. Moderated by Al Barton, vice president of Digital Cinema Technologies for Sony Pictures Entertainment, the session will update attendees on Digital Cinema Initiatives’ efforts to help set industry standards and start a compliance testing program. DCI was created by Disney, Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Studios.

From 2:15–3 p.m., “Spotlight on Projection Technology: Is Laser Light Source Practical?” will tackle the issue of the traditional Xenon lights versus up-and-coming laser technology.

“Xenon lamps are the de facto standard for movie theaters around the world, both for 35 mm and digital,” Lude said. “But they consume a lot of power, they’re very expensive and they have a short life. There have been a few proponents demonstrating ways lasers can be applied for digital cinema projection. It’s not something that’s been widely available yet.” Casey Stack, president of Laser Compliance, will moderate.

At 3:15 p.m., “Digital Cinema Standards: An update on SMPTE DC-28,” will explore the standards-setting committee goings-on with David Schnuelle, senior director of Image Technology at Dolby Labs, moderating.

Wendy Aylsworth, vice president of Technology for Warner Bros., moderates “The Production Pipeline: Digital Intermediate Takes Over” 3:30–4:30 p.m. She and the panel will explore the lessons learned over the years as technology evolves and becomes fully digital.

The last session on Saturday is “New Dimensions – New Challenges: Real World Experience with 3D.” Howard H. Lukk, vice president of Production Technology for Walt Disney Studios, will moderate this discussion on 3D in the post-production process.

“There’s been a lot of interesting discoveries on how to deal with a left eye and right eye images to the chain,” Lude said.


Sunday’s sessions begin at 8:30 a.m. with “The Exhibition Perspective: Truth and Consequences in the D-Cinema Rollout.” Michael Karagosian, president of MKPE Consulting, will moderate this session that takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the digital cinema roll-out.

Next up is “Thwarting In-theater Piracy,” 9:30-10:15 a.m., with Steven Weinstein, president and CEO of Movielabs, acting as moderator. The session reviews the progress being made in securing content of first-run theatrical releases.

“Report from NATO,” 10:15-10:30 a.m., again led by Karagosian, updates attendees on NATO’s work on Digital Cinema System Requirements.

Tom Walsh, president of the Art Directors Guild, will lead “Perspective from the Art Director’s Guild: The Impact of Digital Photography,” 10:45–11:30 a.m. For the first time, Lude said, cinematographers will examine the effects of digital’s higher resolution, its different light characteristics and the result on production.

“We’re going to have a panel covering things like how digital cinema affects costumers and makeup artists and lighting directors in terms of the effect from a creative standpoint,” Lude said. “A few people said they didn’t realize they had to approach makeup differently or that costumes showed up flaws we didn’t recognize before.”

The Inter-Society Digital Cinema Forum will present its “ISDCF Report,” 11:30–11:45 a.m. Led by ISDCF’s David Reisner, he explains how the work to bridge differences between content producers, exhibitors and manufacturers continues.

Pete Buckingham, head of distribution and exhibition for the UK Film Council will moderate “Global Initiative: An International Update on Rollout,” 2–2:45 p.m. The session will take a cinematographic trip, digital speaking of course, through Europe, South America and Asia.

“Practical D-Cinema Mastering,” 3–4 p.m., will be led by John Hurst, chief technology officer for Cinecert. He will demonstrate how a person doesn’t have to work for one of the big studios to make DCI-compliant distribution. His props will be readily available, inexpensive software tools.

The summit concludes with “Stereoscopic Projection Systems,” 4–5 p.m. Led by David Monk, professor for EDCF, he will discuss what’s new from the leading innovators of 3D imaging technology.

Lude said as the digital rollout has progressed and the learning curve has passed, the industry looks head and asks what’s next?

“There’s been a whole lot of lessons learned on every step of the process,” Lude said. “This touches everything from the lenses you select to the costumes to the light source to the movie theater. So for the first time this year, we’re really looking at these different aspects.”