NATO’s Digital Cinema System Requirements have taken on more significance to the vendor community as it competes for sales with dozens of exhibitors. The original intent of the work was to bring exhibitors together in their requirements so as to not ask for disparate and incompatible capabilities with both vendors and standards committees. In June of last year, NATO members met with vendors in an all-day meeting to discuss its v2.0 Requirements. That meeting launched a hugely successful dialog, resulting in feedback that drove NATO members to revise their document. The resultant v2.1 Requirements were released in December, with a follow-up meeting with vendors and system integrators in January.
Unlike the first meeting, the recent meeting went noticeably faster and smoother, indicating the degree of understanding that now exists. But NATO’s document only delves into requirements, and does not offer specific solutions in all cases. Further work is needed in gaining agreement for common solutions, whether formal standards or simply ad hoc practice. It was clear that exhibitors will now press harder for certain feature sets now that a slower rollout is taking place, and that more detailed, shared direction will be needed.
Among these are work flow standards for show schedule, show playlist, and show packs, all of which are currently in progress within SMPTE. Some exhibitors are considering revising pre-digital-cinema work within NATO for a Point-of-Sale interface standard. Steps taken in ISDCF for the Cinema Control Message, which is an envelope for B2B messages such as KDMs and FLMs, is receiving wide support with this group, too. TMS-to-server communications utilizing methods known as web-services will require further work.
The NATO System Requirements document is not intended as an addendum to a purchase order as it addresses several audiences. NATO members have been discussing creation of purchase order guidelines, however.
A demonstration of the CSP/RPL protocol for closed captions was performed by USL at the NATO event. Closed captions using Rear Window, infrared-driven headsets, and even a Wi-Fi-driven iPhone, were on display. The CSP/RPL draft standard is in progress within SMPTE. An interop effort with several sever manufacturers, led by NATO, is in progress to deploy the protocol prior to formalization of the standard. Interested manufacturers should contact me for details.